CRH produced at 29.7% increase in turnover in 2006 to EUR18,737.4m. The EBITDA rose by 25.4% to EUR2,455m and the trading profit advanced by 26.8% to EUR1,766m. 612.7m. Europe accounted for a turnover of EUR8,938.7m or 47.7% of the group total and an EBITDA of EUR1,154.9m or 47.0% of the total, while the Americas contributed a turnover of EUR9,798.7m and an EBITDA of EUR1,320.9m. Ireland contributed 6.7% of the group turnover, or EUR1250.9m, and 8.5% of the EBITDA. Capital investment in 2006 was 27.7% higher at EUR832.3m, while spending on acquisitions more than doubled to EUR1,978.4m, with 69 acquisitions taking place during the year, including the EUR1008m purchase of Ashland Paving & Construction, the largest deal CRH has undertaken to date. Net debt at the end of December stood at EUR4,492m, 30.3% higher that a year earlier, to give a gearing level of 63.2%, compared with 55.3% a year earlier, and interest payments are covered 9.7 times by EBITDA.
Cement volumes were generally strong, rising by 29% in Poland, by 8% in Finland, around 5% in the Ukraine and by 3% in Ireland. Swiss cement deliveries, on the other hand, were off by around 10% following the completion of the main part of the Lötschberg tunnel. The Portuguese associate sold marginally less cement, as increased exports did not fully compensate for the extent of the drop in the domestic market. Concrete and aggregates volumes rose across the Baltic area, Ireland and Spain, leading to improved profitability there as well as in Switzerland, where prices moved ahead. Heavy building materials across Europe increased turnover by 12.1% to EUR2,967m and the trading profit advanced by 11.7% to EUR421m.