It grieves me that Fletcher Building has chosen to put all the blame for a poor year's performance on the construction division.

If I read the announcement correctly Fletcher Building's performance in 2017 of $94 million measured in net earnings only equals that of its first year in full operation, 2002, when it had only about 17 per cent of today's capital and 22 per cent of today's assets.

The only year its results were worse was during the financial crisis in 2009 when its net earnings was a loss of $46m.

The announcement states that the operating earnings for the year for the construction sector will be a loss of $204m, the full cash effect of which will not arise for several years.


However, against other divisions' operating earnings are losses - or as Fletcher calls them - significant items, impairment, closure costs etc amounting to $252m.

Fletcher Building's lacklustre performance is dotted with these 'significant items' principally related to its Formica and Australian building products operations - losses of $306m in 2009, $104m in 2011, $153m in 2012, $150m in 2015 and now $252m in 2017.

The construction division since former Fletcher Building chief executive Mark Adamson instituted his centralised corporate structure failed to adequately perform, resulting in this year's losses.

But it did, including the residential unit which it handled up until recently, contribute $534m of operating earnings during that period against Formica Europe's loss of $73m.

Quit blaming everything on the construction division's recent declared losses.

- Jack Smith is a former CEO of Fletcher Construction.