DUBLIN, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Irish building supplies group CRH said on Tuesday it returned to profit after tax in the first half on a strong performance in Europe, adding that despite concerns about Ukraine it was on track to hit earnings targets for the year.
Profit after tax rebounded to 61 million euros ($81 million) in the first six months from a loss of 71 million euros in the same period a year earlier, on sales of 8.3 billion euros.
Like-for-like sales were higher in Europe than in the United States in the first half, growing 6 percent and 4 percent respectively, it said in a statement.
“After the strong start in Europe we have seen an easing of trends in recent months ... while the uncertain political backdrop in Ukraine remains a cause for concern,” the statement said.
“Against the backdrop of positive economic indicators... we expect the Americas overall to be ahead in the second half of 2014.”
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were 27 percent higher at 505 million euros ($674 million) in the first six months compared to last year and were set to be “somewhat ahead” of last year in the second half.
Ukraine is one of CRH’s main eastern European markets, accounting for 24 million euros of EBITDA in 2013.
The company, which said in February that it would sell at least 10 percent of net assets in a portfolio review, said its divestment programme would likely be worth between 1.5 billion and 2 billion euros.
1 US dollar = 0.7491 euro Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Keiron Henderson