CRH said its full-year profit before tax is expected to break the Euro 1bn level (2003: Euro 864m) for the first time. The group has performed strongly in 2004 with good full year organic growth and a significant incremental contribution from acquisitions. Subject to continuing uncertainties in economies and currency markets, with a focus on operations, ongoing strong cash flow, comfortable interest cover and a sustained development emphasis the company said it faces 2005 with confidence. Recovery of higher input costs through price improvements and efficiency measures will remain a priority for the year ahead.
First half activity benefited from strong organic growth, a return to more normal seasonal weather patterns in Northern Europe and North America and modest market improvements. This, combined with significant incremental contributions from acquisitions and only a minor adverse translation impact due to seasonally low first half US.Dollar operating profits, resulted in a substantial 71 per cent increase in profit before tax for the six months to Euro 275m (2003: Euro 161m).
Results were affected by higher world energy prices and rising input costs, and by the weakening of the US Dollar. Profit before tax in the second half of the year has increased and is expected to show a mid single digit percentage advance over the 2003 outcome of Euro 703m.