CRH’s first half turnover recovered by 4.4% to EUR8525m as the EBITDA recovered by 8.6% to EUR626m and the trading profit by 45.1% to EUR209m. The pre-tax profit more than trebled to EUR95m. Net debt at the end of June was 21.4% lower at EUR 3906m, giving a gearing ratio of 39.5% compared with 48% a year earlier.
Myles Lee, Chief Executive, said today: "The positive outcome for the first half of 2011 clearly demonstrates the advantages of CRH’s product and sectoral end-use balance and the benefits of the extensive reorganisation and restructuring measures implemented in response to the exceptionally difficult markets of recent years. Looking to the second half, downward revisions to economic growth estimates over recent months, combined with the extreme turbulence evident in world financial markets over the past few weeks, have added to market risks and uncertainties. Against this background we continue to focus on operational and commercial excellence, on delivering the price increases necessary to recover higher input costs in our businesses and on delivering a year of progress for CRH in 2011."
Capital expenditure in the period was 34.3% higher at EUR294m, while spending on acquisitions rose by 8.3% to EUR130m. Since June, a further EUR217m has been spent on seven acquisitions, the most important of by for which was the purchase of the VVM cement business in Belgium.
The European heavy building materials operations, which also include the emerging operations in China, India and the Near East, produced a turnover 9.3% higher at EUR1337m, but the EBITDA was off by 2.0% to EUR149m.
Cement shipments fell by 19% in Ireland, by 20% in Portugal and by 3% in India, but increased 17% in Poland, by 16% in Finland, by 9% in the Ukraine and by 3% in Switzerland, while there was a massive 30% advance in the Chinese associate. Higher energy costs had a negative impact on cement margins and also on the downstream margins in aggregates and concrete.
For the full year, CRH currently anticipates EUR50m gain on the sale of emission rights, somewhat lower than the EUR67m achieved last year, but the first half contribution was EUR5m higher at EUR22m. With the completion of its current investment programme in the Ukraine, this year, CRH aims to be come the leading cement producer there, up from its current number four position.