CRH sees second half improvement

By Chris Sleight07 July 2009

CRH chief executive Myles Lee.

CRH chief executive Myles Lee.

Materials producer CRH's pre-tax profit for the first half of the year will be about € 100 million, compared to the € 600 million achieved for the first six months of 2008. However, the company says the rate of its decline in profits is slowing, and the second half of the year should see a less striking fall compared to 2008.

In fact CRH said the rate of decline in profits was slower in the second half of this year than in Q1. However, the three-month period also saw it take a € 75 million restructuring charge and € 20 million adverse effect from currency fluctuations.

Commenting on key markets, a company statement said, "In Europe, the trading environment to date has proved much more challenging than the first half of 2008, which benefited from good demand and a mild winter. While the second quarter saw a seasonal pick-up in activity levels and an improvement in the rate of year-on-year profit decline, this was not as positive as previously anticipated due to ongoing weakening in economic conditions across the region.

"In the Americas, financing constraints have led to delays and cancellations in commercial construction projects resulting in a sharper than expected slowing in the pace of US private non-residential construction."

Looking ahead, the company said, "For the second half, in Eastern Europe we expect performance to be somewhat more robust, although still lagging 2008. We anticipate little or no pick-up in second-half demand in Ireland and Finland, while construction activity in the core Eurozone countries is likely to remain weak."

It was more upbeat about prospects in the US, saying, "Infrastructure activity is gaining momentum as state authorities release projects financed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and projects supported by state funds, some of which were delayed while stimulus monies were being allocated."

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