CRH annual earnings up 11pc as US recovery gains momentum
Earnings at Ireland's CRH rose for the first time in three years in 2014, ahead of its acquisition of assets from rivals that will transform it into the world's third-biggest building materials supplier.
CRH earlier this month agreed to pay €6.5bn for the assets Lafarge and Holcim have to sell to win regulatory approval for their planned merger to create a new company whose €38bn in sales will dwarf the €18.9bn CRH generated last year.
CRH said the recovery in the United States, where it is the leading producer of asphalt for highway construction, was gaining momentum and it expected to see some improvement in overall demand in western Europe next year with markets stabilising.
"We were able to use the underlying strength of our business to capitalise on the recovering markets and deliver a return to profit and margin growth," CRH chief executive Albert Manifold said in a statement on Thursday.
"We expect 2015 to be another year of progress."
CRH's full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 11 percent to 1.64 billion euros from a year earlier, when they fell to their lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis hit the construction sector.
Upon agreeing the Holcim/Lafarge deal, CRH said it did not expect EBITDA to be less than 1.625 billion euros. The assets, which include operations in Britain, Canada, Europe and the Philippines, will add 752 million euros to annual EBITDA, CRH say.