DUBLIN May 7 Irish building materials and
products group CRH expects earnings to rise this year
after revenues grew sharply in its struggling European business
in the first four months of the year.
CRH, whose rivals Holcim and Lafarge
announced the industry's biggest merger last month, said sales
rose 10 percent in Europe to the end of April, driven by better
weather conditions and improving underlying market conditions.
In the United States, where CRH is the leading producer of
asphalt for highway construction, cold weather hit early season
activity but stronger housing activity and a strengthening
economic background saw revenue rise by 2 percent.
"In Europe, the good start to the year in much more
favourable weather conditions is encouraging. While we continue
to expect second-half performance to be ahead of last year, we
believe that the strong year-to-date rate of organic growth is
likely to moderate," CRH said in a statement.
The Dublin-based group said it expects earnings before
interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the
seasonally less significant first half of the year to rise to
500 million euros ($697 million) from 400 million a year ago.
Earnings in the second-half should be somewhat ahead of last
year, it added.
It also said that it had seen limited impact on trading to
date from the political unrest in Ukraine, one of its main
European markets, where cement volumes were up 30 percent. The
outlook remains uncertain however, the Dublin-based group said.
After announcing a review of its portfolio last year, CRH
said in February that it would sell 45 businesses representing
10 percent of net assets and would continue to keep a watch on
other operations accounting for 20 percent of assets.
It said on Wednesday that it was assessing another selection
of businesses that account for a further 10 percent of net
assets where the returns potential was not yet clear. The review
will be completed in the third quarter.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Greg Mahlich)