With CRH’s first half turnover down by 14.6 per cent to €8292m, the company is taking a more cautious approach to its outlook. EBITDA declined by 41 per cent to €651m, the trading falling by 66.2 per cent to €241m and the pre-tax profit dropping by 82.2 per cent to €108m. CRH said the first quarter of the year was particularly severe, with the rate of decline easing in the second three months.
In Ireland, a €8m trading loss was incurred, compared with a €56m profit last year, on a turnover 37.8 per cent lower at €358m. Helped by the March rights issue, net debt at the end of June was 7.2 per cent lower at €6,091m, giving a gearing ratio of 66.1 per cent compared with 87 per cent a year earlier.
The European heavy building materials operations produced a turnover 28 per cent down at €1303m and the EBITDA fell by 53.7 per cent to €163m. Cement shipments fell by 50 per cent in Ireland, by 45 per cent in the Ukraine but rose in Switzerland. The North American heavy building materials saw turnover decline by 12.1 per cent to €1648m and the EBITDA fell by 14.6 per cent to €135m. Results from Canada, Argentina and Chile were also lower.
Looking forward to the second half, demand remains depressed, with the exception of Polish cement deliveries, where an improvement appears to be seen. In the USA, commercial and industrial building markets are continuing to decline, but aggregates and asphalt volumes should improve somewhat in the autumn as the US stimulus package begins to take effect.
In addition, CRH chief executive, Myles Lee, said: “While overall group profitability in the second half of 2009 will be lower than in 2008, we will benefit from the aggressive cost reduction measures undertaken in 2008 and to date in 2009 and from more moderate second-half energy-related input costs than in 2008.