Weather and currencies depress CRH

Weather and currencies depress CRH
Published: 03 March 2004

The Dublin-based building materials group CRH plc produced a 2.6 per cent increase in turnover to €11,079m, in spite of adverse exchange rate movements, particularly the US dollar followed by the Polish zloty, and weather conditions.  At constant exchange rates, turnover advanced by 14.9 per cent.  The operating profit at the EBITDA level emerged a marginal 0.1 per cent lower at €1502.9m while the trading profit was off by 0.3 per cent to €1044.7m.  Helped by a 14.8 per cent reduction in the net interest charge to €118.0m, the running profit before tax advanced by 1.3 per cent to €851.2m.  Capital investment was 9.4 per cent higher at €402.0m, while €1615m was spent on acquisitions and on investments in joint ventures and associates, an increase of €62.8m.  That includes the €693m spent on the two Cementbouw deals in The Netherlands, the biggest deal undertaken by CRH to date.

Turnover in the Irish Republic rose by 2.5% to €731.6m.  In Great Britain and Northern Ireland, turnover declined by 9.9 per cent, principally because of the weaker pound sterling but trading margins widened from 8.0 per cent to 8.3 per cent, principally on the back of higher brick prices, though volumes were only marginally ahead because of the rebuilding of a number of kilns.

American turnover fell by 5.3 per cent to €6021.4m, entirely the result of a 10.4 per cent drop in the value of the US dollar, and the portion accounted for by the Americas declined from 58.9 per cent in 2002 to 54.3 per cent last year.  The trading profit dropped by 11.0 per cent to €559m, but in local currency terms an increase of some seven per cent was recorded.  Wet weather in the north-eastern parts of the United States was the principal reason behind underlying volume declines of 2% in aggregates and 4% in blacktop. In South America, profits improved in Argentina, but the smaller Chilean operation reported reduced profitability.