UPDATE 2-Ireland's CRH trims forecast and plans more cost cuts

Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:48am EST

* Sees FY EBITDA at 1.6 bln eur from 1.65 previously

* Says to cut 450 mln euros in costs by end-2015

* In Europe like-for-like sales down 7 percent in quarter

* due to a contraction in Polish construction activity and weak consumer sentiment in the Netherlands.

By Lorraine Turner

DUBLIN, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Ireland'S CRH said disruption from superstorm Sandy and further weakness in key European markets will hit earnings in the final quarter, prompting it to nudge down its full-year guidance.

The Dublin-based building materials company said it would squeeze further costs out of the business in response to the challenges in Europe, identifying 450 million euros ($572 million) of savings over the next three years, after slashing more than 2 billion since 2007.

It did not say how many jobs would go as a result of various administration and efficiency measures mostly in Europe.

The building sector, already facing the collapse of housing markets in Spain and other crisis-hit euro zone states, is a leading indicator of whether European companies are committing to the investment needed to prevent an extended downturn.

The company said it expects to report earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of approximately 1.6 billion euros, from its earlier estimate of 1.65 billion.

CRH, a leading producer of asphalt for highway construction, said the short-term impact on its material business from Sandy would be reversed early next year when reconstruction work begins.

The storm, which swept up the east coast of the United States nearly a fortnight ago, caused extensive damage including in the New York City area.

"There has a been a lot of a damage in the northeast, our distribution business supplies a lot of roofing products. Once the winter clears, we'll probably see some benefits from that," CRH Chief Executive Myles Lee told Reuters.

"We see the U.S. continuing to move forward next year, particularly on housing," said Lee, with like-for-like sales 1 percent ahead of 2011.

The picture is much bleaker in Europe. CRH said the pace of decline in like-for-like sales was higher in the third quarter, down 7 percent due to a contraction in Polish construction activity and weak consumer sentiment in the Netherlands.

Countries such as Germany, Finland and Switzerland were more resilient, said Lee.

France's Lafarge said sales volumes for cement declined in the third quarter due to the construction slowdown in Europe and bad weather conditions in the U.S. midwest, with the world's largest cement maker vowing to cut its debt below 10 billion euros.

Shares in CRH were down 0.8 percent by 0833 GMT, underperforming the Irish market which was up 0.3 percent.