CRH sees earnings growth in second half after weak start
* Says bad weather and weak Europe impact first half
* H1 earnings seen around 400 mln euros vs year-ago 480 mln
* Wet and cold weather in U.S. also impacts Q1
DUBLIN, May 8 (Reuters) - Ireland's CRH, one of the world's largest building materials providers, said earnings growth won't come until the second half of the year, flagging that bad weather and a weak Europe impacted its first half.
Dublin-based CRH said ahead of its annual shareholders' meeting on Wednesday it expected core earnings in the second six months of the year, historically the company's more profitable period, to be ahead of last year's 1.04 billion euros ($1.4 billion), assuming normal weather patterns.
Earnings in the first six months of the year, however, are expected at around 400 million euros, lower than the 480 million posted in the corresponding year last year.
Prolonged winter weather in Europe combined with a weak economic backdrop impacted construction levels in the region and hurt its first quarter performance there, CRH said.
Wet and cold weather in the United States, against a benign period last year, also impacted the company's performance there in the first quarter.
The company reiterated guidance given in February that growth this year would be driven by its business in the United States, where it is the main producer of asphalt for highway construction, offsetting a weaker performance in its European business.
A pick-up in residential construction and new measures in some states will help boost transport infrastructure projects, driving growth in the U.S. in the second half, CRH said.
In Europe, CRH said it would take further steps to cut costs, continuing with a programme which saved it 166 million euros in 2012.
The company gave no update on progress with the search to replace Chief Executive Myles Lee, who said in February he would step down at the end of this year.
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