* CRH says 2014 will be year of profit growth
* Trading so far this year ahead of 2013
* Will sell 45 businesses
* Takes 755 mln euro impairment charge
DUBLIN, Feb 25 Irish building supplies group CRH
said 2013 should represent the trough in its profits as
the construction market in the United States improves and the
European economy stabilises.
After an unusually long period of bad weather led to a sharp
fall in first-half earnings, CRH said on Tuesday revenue rose 2
percent in the second half of the year, with a smaller decline
in Europe boosted by a 5 percent increase in the United States.
Full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and
amortisation (EBITDA) amounted to 1.48 billion euros ($2
billion), ahead of guidance given in November, the Dublin-based
"We believe that 2013 represents the trough in our profits,
and that 2014 will be a year of profit growth," said chief
executive Albert Manifold, who took over last month following
the retirement of Myles Lee.
"We are encouraged by second-half activity levels in 2013
and by the fact that, while it is still early in the season,
trading so far in 2014 has been ahead of last year."
CRH's more positive outlook matches that of France's
Saint-Gobain, Europe's biggest supplier of building
materials, which said last week that cost savings, innovation
and a recovery in the United States would help operating profit
to rebound this year.
CRH, which has generated 2 billion euros from asset
disposals since 2007 alongside hundreds of millions of euros
spent each year on bolt-on acquisitions, said in November it
would undertake a review of its businesses to pinpoint further
It said on Tuesday it had identified 45 business units for
disposal, accounting for 3 percent of 2013 EBITDA, and that it
had taken a non-cash impairment charge of 755 million euros,
mostly relating to Europe, ahead of their sale.
It added that a further group of businesses, representing 20
percent of net assets, required more detailed assessment but
that it did not anticipate further impairment charges to arise
should a decision be made to exit any of these businesses.
"While this has resulted in significant non-cash impairment
charges, we believe that dynamic allocation and reallocation of
resources to optimise the portfolio will be key to driving
growth and to rebuilding returns and margins over the coming
years," Manifold said.