(Recasts to lead with net profits)
MONTERREY, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Mexico’s Cemex, one of the world’s largest cement producers, reported a better-than-expected quarterly net profit on Thursday, driven by a jump in sales in its home country, where it boosted prices.
Cemex reported third-quarter net earnings of $286 million, compared with a loss of $44 million in the same period of 2015. The results beat the $119 million profit expected by analysts surveyed in a Reuters poll.
Cemex said sales fell 1.6 percent to $3.58 billion. However, the company, which reports in dollars, said the decline was due to the depreciation of currencies in the emerging markets in which it operates.
It said if the effects of the currency fluctuations were stripped out, its sales rose 4 percent.
In Mexico, one of Cemex’s main markets, sales volume grew by 10 percent. It also hiked prices there by 17 percent, as denominated in the country’s currency.
In the United States, another major market, Cemex said volumes fell 2 percent due to more rain than usual. However, the company also raised its U.S. prices by 4 percent.
Cemex said it increased its free cash flow by 25 percent in the quarter to $470 million and also lowered its debt by 10 percent to $13.97 billion.
The company added that it now expected to reduce its debt by up to $2.5 billion this year and hoped to invest $700 million, up from a previous goal of $650 million. (Reporting by Gabriela Lopez in Monterrey and Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Martina D‘Couto and W Simon)