Wolseley - the world's biggest supplier of plumbing and heating equipment - expects to notch up higher sales in the US after the damage wreaked by Hurricane Katrina.
But chief executive Charles Banks, who is due to step down at the end of July next year, yesterdaywarned that talk of a "building bonanza" had probably been overdone.
Aside from New Orleans Katrina hit relatively sparsely populated areas, in contrast to Hurricane Andrew which destroyed large swathes of Florida in 1992.
"I just don't see this as a boom to the whole US housing and building market, because I think the impact will be spread over several years, and I think it's a relatively small part of the economy," Mr Banks said after the group posted a near 16 per cent rise in annual profits.
Wolseley said that pretax profit before goodwill came in line with analysts' forecasts at £691.2 million, compared with £598 million a year ago.
Sales for the year to July 31 rose 11.2 per cent to £11.26 billion, powered by a strong performance from its plumbing and heating and building materials business in North America.
While Wolseley has only a limited presence in the southern states hit by Katrina, Mr Banks said it still expected to win a fair slice of major projects because of strong relationships with major building firms.
"We will definitely get some benefit from the reconstruction work down in New Orleans and the surrounding areas that were hit by Katrina, although Houston appears to have escaped relatively unscathed from Hurricane Rita," said Mr Banks, who has been with Wolseley for nearly 40 years.
Some industry observers have suggested that between 30,000 and 40,000 new homes may be needed following the hurricanes in the Gulf region and Wolseley, whose US business accounts for about 60 per cent of group sales, is hoping its relationship with some of the big US construction firms in the affected regions will provide a boost to sales.
Growth was more modest in Europe. But Wolseley UK, which includes the Plumb Center chain, bucked tough trading conditions in the UK to notch up an 11.7 per cent rise in sales to £2.35 billion.
Organic growth of more than five per cent outperformed the market generally, with the plumbing, heating, pipe and bathroom businesses performing particularly well.
A During the year, the company added 57 new locations to its network in the UK and Ireland, taking the total number of branches to 1,570.
Yesterday's results were accompanied by the appointment of the boss of Wolseley's North American division as successor to Mr Banks.
Chip Hornsby, who is aged 49, joined Ferguson Enterprises - part of Wolseley - as a graduate trainee 27 years ago. Wolseley raised its total dividend 10.9 per cent to 26.4p. Its shares closed down 18p at 1156.