James Hardie Industries plc. (JHX)

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James Hardie Industries SE (JHX)

August 12, 2013 2:30 am ET


Michael N. Hammes - Chairman of the Board, Member of Audit Committee, Member of Nominating & Governance Committee and Member of Remuneration Committee

Louis Gries - Chief Executive Officer, Executive General Manager of U.S.A, Executive Director and Member of Financial Statements Disclosure Committee

Marcin Firek - Company Secretary, Legal Counsel, Company Secretary of Australia and Member of Financial Statements Disclosure Committee


Michael N. Hammes

Hello, my name is Mike Hammes. I'm Chairman of the Board of James Hardie plc. I'd like to welcome you all to the company's 2013 Annual General Meeting. As the appointed time has arrived and the necessary quorum for the meeting is present, I declare this meeting open.

I'd like to start by introducing the members of the Board and management present here in Dublin. Seated on the stage from your left are the directors, James Osborne; Brian Andersen; Donald McGauchie, our Deputy Chairman; Russell Chenu, our outgoing Chief Financial Officer; and to my right, your left, is Louis Gries, our CEO. Moving on, Marcin Ferik is to my left, your right, followed by the Board member, David Harrison, Alison Littley and Rudy Van Der Meer. We're also joined here in Dublin by George Deegan, Mike Schoenfeld and John Faulkner, representatives of the company's external auditors, Ernst & Young, and some of the company's senior U.S. and Ireland-based executives, including our incoming Chief Financial Officer, Matt Marsh and our General Counsel, Joe Blasko.

The meeting will give you the opportunity to express to the Board and management your views on the resolutions which are the subject of this meeting, and through me, ask any questions. We welcome an open discussion, expression of views as long as it's relevant to the business of the meeting and respects the views of others. We will allow all holders to speak and ask questions at the meeting, however, unless you appointed yourself as a proxy for the meeting, you'll not be able to vote on the resolutions at this meeting, and your vote as submitted on your voting instruction form cannot be changed.

The Notice of the Meeting describes how proxy holders who have an open proxy but are unable to attend the meeting can instruct the company regarding their voting directions. We will allow proxy holders to do so until 1 hour after the commencement of the meeting.

As Chairman, I note I have the sole authority to preserve order and regulate the procedure and conduct of the meeting. We will use voting cards for all resolutions. All holders and proxy holders who are eligible to vote have been handed a green voting card when they registered. If you are eligible to vote on the resolutions, you will need to complete your voting card. Voting cards will be collected at the end of the meeting.

A number of documents are available for inspection at the back of the meeting room in Dublin and at our company offices in both Sydney and Dublin. These include the minutes of the previous AGM, annual General Meeting, and a copy of the registers required to be available for inspection under Irish law.

I'd like to begin the meeting by talking to you briefly before handing over the meeting to our Chief Executive Officer, Louis Gries.

In the past year, James Hardie has performed well financially and continues both operationally and financially strong. With the steady recovery in the U.S. housing market now entering its third year and the gradual improvement of market conditions in the Asia-Pacific region, our focus in fiscal year 2013 was in -- was on investing in our business to ensure they are well positioned to take advantage of future market opportunities. Operating earnings for the group were stable relative to fiscal year 2012 in the U.S. We experienced improving demand for our products and are maintaining our category share and growing our market share against other colliding products.

Similarly in Australia, despite the subdued operating environment, we continue to enjoy strong category share, with Scyon product range becoming a larger part of that business. The investment of AUD 89 million in our Carole Park, Brisbane Australia manufacturing facility to expand our Australian fiber cement manufacturing capacity will support the continued growth of Scyon in Australia and ensure the Australian business is well placed to respond to the increasing preference for composite building materials in both residential and commercial construction.

Louis Gries, our Chief Executive Officer, will address the group financial results, the current operating environment and the outlook in greater detail in his presentation.

Now turning our attention to capital management. Our continued solid operating performance and confidence in future market opportunities enabled the Board to declare a first half dividend of USD 0.05, and a second half ordinary dividend of USD 0.13, as well as a special dividend of USD 0.24 per security in May of 2013. The resulting full year dividend of USD 0.42 per security in respect of the fiscal year 2013 totaling approximately USD 185.5 million was equal to the prior full year dividend.

The ordinary dividend announced in May of 2013 represents an early increase in the company's dividend payout ratio which we announced in November of 2012, from between 20% and 30% to between 30% and 50% of net operating profit, excluding, of course, the asbestos adjustments beginning in fiscal year of 2014 onwards. The special dividend represents amounts that were not utilized in the company's share buyback program which expired in May of 2013.

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