* H1 EBITDA falls 24 pct to 397 mln euros
* Sees H2 earnings in line with 1.04 bln euros last year
* COO says U.S. orders strong, trends good in recent weeks
DUBLIN, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Irish building supplies company CRH cut its full-year earnings outlook on Tuesday, citing an unusually long period of bad weather that produced a sharp fall in first-half earnings.
CRH has reacted to the five-year construction downturn by cutting costs more aggressively and earlier than many of its peers, but like most of its rivals it has been stymied by the long winter.
The company said it had identified a 60 million euros of fresh savings for this year, on top of the 125 million euros already targeted, and had expected core second-half earnings to beat last year’s 1.04 billion euros ($1.4 billion).
But after posting first-half earnings down 24 percent at 397 million euros on Tuesday it said that the historically more profitable second half would now be in line with 2012.
The first-half result was in line with the company’s forecast in May but lower than the average estimate of 410 million euros from nine analysts surveyed by Reuters.
CRH, which broadly splits its revenue between Europe and the United States, said that activity remained weak in the former despite more positive recent economic data, while privately-funded construction is showing signs of life in the U.S.
“The order book is there. If the weather stays, we’ll get a good chance to get out and work,” said Albert Manifold, the chief operating officer who will replace retiring chief executive Myles Lee at the end of the year.
“I do think there’s room to be positive going forward. We’re seeing growth in the U.S. and hopefully we’ll see a stabilisation in Europe in the next 6-12 months.”
Shares in CRH, which moved its primary listing to London last year, were down 5.7 percent by 0724 GMT.
CRH’s U.S. rivals Martin Marietta and Vulcan recently reported an increase in private construction activity, particularly in residential builds. In Europe, meanwhile, France’s Saint-Gobain expects a gradual recovery in the second half of 2013 after a slow first six months.
Austrian group Wienerberger, the world’s largest brickmaker, said on Tuesday that it expects western Europe’s construction market to stabilise in the second half.