CRH sees sharp reductions in Irish, Finnish and Ukrainian cement volumes

CRH sees sharp reductions in Irish, Finnish and Ukrainian cement volumes
Published: 03 March 2010

CRH’s turnover fell by 16.9% in 2009 year to €17,373m and the EBITDA by 32.4% to €1,803m.  The trading profit dropped by 48.1% to €955m and, after a net interest charge 13.4% lower at €297m, the running pre-tax profit was down by 52.9% to €732m. 

The tax charge dropped by 63.4% as higher taxed US earnings fell more sharply than elsewhere and the reduction in the net attributable profit was limited to 52.8% at €598m.  Net debt at the end of December was down by 38.9% to €3,723m, helped by the rights issue and the gearing level came down from 74.7%, to 38.3% as shareholder’s funds increased by 19.0% to €9,710m.  Capital expenditure was reduced by 26.2% to €767m and acquisition spending was reduced by 77.6% to 174m. 

European turnover, which also includes the still modest Asian operations, contracted by 16.2% to €9,376m, while in the Americas the reduction was of 17.6% to €7,997m.  In terms of EBITDA, the European contribution fell by 36.8% to €920m, while the American contribution was 27.0% lower at €883m.  

The European heavy building materials division saw turnover decline by 25.6% to €2,749m and the EBITDA fell by 46.2% to €434.  Cement deliveries dropped by some 45% in Ireland on top of the 20% reduction seen in the previous year.  In Finland and the Ukraine, the next worst performers, cement volumes dropped by 40% and 35% respectively.  Poland did better, restricting the volume reduction to 10%, with increased tonnages being envisaged for 2010.  In Switzerland, cement volumes increased, as did cement exports from Portugal, though domestic deliveries in Portugal declined as did group cement sales in The Netherlands, all of which are imported. 

Thanks to the commissioning of coal mills, CRH has markedly improved its competitive position in the Ukraine.  Aggregates and concrete volumes, which also cover Spain, Estonia and Latvia as well as the St. Petersburg area in Russia, saw volumes decline in all countries, with the exception of Switzerland.  The cement joint ventures in Turkey and in India operated in difficult markets that suffered from over-capacity.   China, on the other hand, performed well, with cement volumes in northeastern China rising by 12%.