CRH said that overall trading in the first four months of the year has been favourable with in particular a strong start from operations in the Americas. The company said that the year has also started well on the development front with the completion of over 20 acquisitions for a total cost of Euro 700m.
Operations, in Europe Materials, the strong trading patterns evident in Ireland and Finland in the latter months of last year have continued into this year were helped by generally broad-based construction activity in both markets.
In Switzerland, the completion of a major infrastructure project has as expected led to a decline in cement sales; however, demand remains stable in our underlying residential and non-residential markets. Poland has recovered well from a weather affected start and demand is expected to remain good for the rest of the year. Despite extreme seasonal winter weather which has negatively impacted cement sales to date the full year outlook for the Ukraine remains positive. In Iberia, Spanish operations have enjoyed a favourable start; however, Portuguese joint venture Secil has seen reduced construction activity in its home market as the Government continues to rein in public expenditure, the company said.
CRH said that in the United States, as is normal, the highway construction season in many of Americas Materials market areas has yet to get fully underway. However, construction backlogs are encouraging and demand to date has been strong, helped by a mild winter which has facilitated early private sector construction activity.
Following the good overall margin improvement achieved last year, the key challenge for this year is to once again offset the impact of ongoing energy and input cost increases through effective pricing strategies and operational efficiencies.