CRH's turnover rose by 25 per cent in 2015 to EUR23,635m while the EBITDA advanced by 35.2 per cent to EUR22198m. The trading profit increased by 39.3 per cent to EUR1277m. The net interest charge rose by 19.9 per cent to EUR295m and there was a EUR101m gain on disposals, compared with EUR77m in 2014, which led to a pre-tax profit 35.7 per cent higher at EUR10331m. The net attributable profit was 24.4 per cent ahead at EUR724m.
Net debt at the end of December was 57.3 per cent higher at EUR9,193m and the gearing level rose from 57.3 per cent to 70.6 per cent, as shareholder's funds advanced by 32.8 per cent to EUR13,015m.
Commenting on the results, Albert Manifold, CEO, said: “As a result of good performance from our heritage businesses and contributions from acquisitions, 2015 was a year of significant profit growth for CRH. Strong cash generation resulted in our year-end debt metrics being ahead of target, and we are well on track to restoring these metrics to normalised levels during 2016. Recently there has been some uncertainty about the pace of global growth. Our focus remains on consolidating and building upon the gains made in 2015, and against this backdrop we believe 2016 will be a year of continued growth for the Group.”
European turnover, which includes the still comparatively modest contribution from the Asian operations, advanced by 26.0 per cent to EUR11,1448m, entirely thanks to the completion of the acquisitions from LafargeHolcim during the second half of the year. Turnover in the Americas rose by 24 per cent to EUR12,491m, notably boosted by the acquisition of CR Laurence in early September and the stronger US dollar. European contribution improved by 16.9 per cent to EUR776m, while the American contribution shot up by 47.7 per cent to EUR1443m. The acquisitions from LafargeHolcim notably increased the size of the business in Canada, Great Britain, France, Germany and Romania and extend group operations to the Philippines and to Brazil.
The European heavy building materials turnover declined by 8.2 per cent to EUR3607m without the acquisitions from LafargeHolcim but was ahead by 53.3 per cent to EUR6,025m and the EBITDA rose by 32.9 per cent to EUR505m and includes a EUR171m contribution from the LafargeHolcim assets acquired, mainly at the end of July. Cement volumes grew by 17 per cent in Ireland and by two per cent in the Ukraine but declined by a further six per cent in Finland, with prices under pressure there, in Switzerland, Ireland and in a number of other countries. Of the newly acquired assets, cement volumes were lower in France and in Germany but increased in Romania. Overseas, volumes were positive in the Philippines but negative in Brazil. Including other materials, volumes were also ahead in the Netherlands and in Denmark.
European lightside building products saw turnover improve by 5.3 per cent to EUR961m and the EBITDA rose by 6.4 per cent to EUR100m. Construction accessories, which represent around 60 per cent of EBITDA, saw underlying turnover improve by two per cent and profits were ahead, with profits improving in Great Britain, Belgium, The Netherlands and Spain, while being stable in Switzerland but trading conditions in France remained difficult. Shutters and awnings, which represent 25 per cent of EBITDA, improved turnover by four per cent and profitability improved. Elsewhere, fencing continued to suffer from a difficult environment in The Netherlands and in Germany.
The European distribution activities saw turnover improve by four per cent to EUR4158m but EBITDA was 10 per cent lower at EUR171m. General builders' merchants accounted some 45 per cent of the EBITDA from its 347 branches, while plumbing and heating contributed a quarter from its 134 branches with sales being slightly lower but profitability did improve. The DIY business, which operates 183 stores in The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, accounted for the remaining 30 per cent of the EBITDA, with the Dutch operations improving while Germany was flat.
The North Americas heavy building materials turnover rose by 26.3 per cent to EUR6400m and the EBITDA increased by 49.8 per cent to EUR912m, while the trading profit jumped by 72.1 per cent to EUR611m. The ten acquisitions during the year cost EUR80m and made two investments totalling EUR6m. Six active quarries with 253Mt of reserves, one aggregate terminals and 18 asphalt plants, while EUR109m was raised from disposals. In US dollar terms, turnover grew by five per cent and EBITDA by 25 per cent. Pricing improved for aggregates and for ready-mixed concrete, but asphalt declined by more than the reduction in input costs.
Demand improved for residential and non-residential buildings and were stable in civil engineering. Volumes were four per cent ahead at in aggregates and average prices improved by five per cent, leading to improved margins. Underlying ready-mixed concrete prices improved by six per cent but increased by seven per cent, once acquisitions are included and margins improved further. Asphalt volumes increased by six per cent on a comparative basis and by seven per cent overall. Bitumen costs declined by 18 per cent, having risen by 34 per cent in 2014. Turnover from paving and construction services improved by six per cent and margins were slightly ahead.
Turnover in building products was boosted by the CR Laurence acquisition and rose by 19.8 per cent to EUR3,862m and the EBITDA rose by 48.7 per cent to EUR391m and the trading profit jumped by 71.7 per cent to EUR249m. Architectural products, which accounted for 50 per cent of the divisional EBITDA, saw an improvement in turnover awhile generating higher profit and margins. Pre-cast products, which represent 20 per cent of the EBITDA, saw improved trading profit and higher sales as improvements were seen in most markets. The architectural glass and storefronts business now represents 30 per cent of building products EMITDA and sales improved, with a more favourable product mix boosting profit and margins.
The South American operations in Argentina and Chile have seen their share of the EBITDA as other activities have been expanded. Finally, the American distribution business improved turnover by 25.5 per cent to EUR2,229m and the EBITDA rose by 33.3 per cent to EUR140m, with exterior products accounting for 60 per cent of the EBITDA and growing most strongly in California and Oregon.