CRH hit by hard winter

CRH hit by hard winter
Published: 21 August 2013

Tagged Under: Ireland 1H13 CRH 

CRH's first-half turnover declined by 3.2 per cent to €8007m and the EBITDA fell by 24 per cent to €397m. The trading profit dropped by 74.7 per cent  to €41m and the pre-tax result fell from a €102m profit to a loss of €71m in spite of a 3.3 per cent reduction in the net interest charge to €146m.

A restatement to reflect accounting changes reduced last year's pre-tax profit from €117m to €102m. The net attributable result went from a €98m profit to a €57m loss. Net debt at the end of June was 7.1 per cent higher at €4191m, giving a gearing level of 38.8 per cent, which compares with 37.5 per cent a year earlier. Capital expenditure in the period was 0.7 per cent  lower at €287m and spending on acquisitions increased by 13.4 per cent to €229m.  

The European heavy building materials operations, which also covers the emerging operations in China, India and the Near East, experienced a 13 per cent reduction in turnover to €993m and the EBITDA fell by 54.3 per cent to €59m. Underlying sales volumes declined by some 14 per cent in the period, while average prices were off by around two per cent. Poland suffered from a combination of weak underlying markets and adverse weather for most of the period, first cold and then flooding, with the result that cement shipments dropped by 31 per cent. Ukrainian volumes were 16 per cent lower, again weather influenced, and the volume decline was too great to be entirely offset by lower production costs and price improvements. Switzerland, on the other hand, benefitted from a 12 per cent increase in cement shipments and better downstream volumes.  Finnish cement volumes were slightly ahead.   

Turnover in building products were off by a further 8.2 per cent  to €1147m and the EBITDA fell by 40 per cent to €54m in response to unfavourable weather conditions and weak underlying demand in most countries in the period. The Netherlands was particularly weak while Great Britain was the only market to register volume growth, with brick volumes improving by six per cent. Polish and Dutch brick volumes and prices, on the other hand, were lower.

European distribution turnover eased by 2.9 per cent to €1837m and the EBITDA fell by 30.8 per cent to €63m as both the builders' merchants and the DIY business continued to suffer from reduced activity, leading to margin pressures in many markets.

The North American heavy building materials turnover declined by seven per cent to €1710m in response to more difficult weather conditions and the EBITDA came off by 26.8 per cent to €52m and the seasonal trading loss rose by 19.7 per cent to €79m.

Aggregates deliveries declined by five per cent at the underlying level, but average prices improved by two per cent. Asphalt volumes were adversely affected by the weather and were down by 13 per cent, or by 16 per cent at the underlying level and prices softened.

Ready-mix concrete shipments were two per cent lower, which represents an underlying five per cent reduction. Selling prices were increased by four per cent, which was in line with cost increases. The building products turnover improved by 8.9 per cent to €1562m, the EBITA rose by 18.9 per cent to €145 and the trading profit advanced by 35.4 per cent to €88m.

South American results were also ahead, but less markedly than in North America. The distribution turnover improved by six per cent to €758m and the EBITDA increased by a fifth to €24m and the trading profit by around 44 per cent to €13m.