Tuesday, February 26 10:22:06
Full year 2012 profits at Ireland's biggest company, CRH, came in at least 2pc ahead of analysts' expectations with EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of E1.6 billion.
Sales revenues rose by 3pc to E18.659 billion reflecting what chief executive, Myles Lee, said was progress from CRH's Americas operations helped by a strong recovery in residential construction and improving overall economic activity in the United States.
In contrast, its European businesses had to contend with weakening consumer and investor confidence within the Eurozone.
Operating profits fell by 3pc to E845 million, after combined restructuring and impairment charges of E88 million. Profit before tax declined by 5pc to E674 million, with an earnings per share of 76.5 cent.
In Ireland, construction activity continued to fall, with domestic cement volumes 17pc lower than in 2011.
The group's dividend per share will be maintained at 62.5 cent, with a final dividend of 44 cent recommended.
The group spent E256 million in the first half of 2012 on 18 acquisition and investment initiatives, to strengthen its existing market positions and add "valuable and well-located aggregates reserves". The second half of the year saw a step-up in the level of development activity with 18 transactions at a total cost of E390 million, with the largest transaction being a majority stake in Trap Rock Industries, an integrated aggregates and asphalt business in New Jersey.
It disposed of assets valued at E859 million during the year, including its 49pc stake in Portuguese cement producer Secil and the sale in April of its wholly-owned Magnetic Autocontrol business.
"Assuming no major financial or energy market dislocations, we expect that ongoing improvements in our businesses in the Americas combined with further profit improvement initiatives throughout our operations will outweigh continuing trading pressures in our European segments, enabling the Group to achieve progress in 2013," said Mr Lee.