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CRH hints at further buybacks after hiking 2019 dividend

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Growth: CRH is led by chief executive Albert Manifold. Photo: Gary O' Neill

Growth: CRH is led by chief executive Albert Manifold. Photo: Gary O' Neill

Growth: CRH is led by chief executive Albert Manifold. Photo: Gary O' Neill

CRH has continued to ramp up a return of capital to shareholders, announcing a 15pc hike in its full-year dividend and hinting strongly at further share buybacks.

Finance director Senan Murphy said he expected to update the market on what he described as the "ongoing buyback programme" in a trading update in April. The group launched its first buyback programme in a decade in 2018 and has since bought back €1.6bn of stock, with a further €200m round due to run until the end of March.

Meanwhile, managers said the coronavirus has had "no impact as of yet" on CRH.

Mr Murphy said it was "very, very early days" but that some actions had been taken, including factory shutdowns in China.

CRH announced yesterday that it will increase its 2019 dividend to shareholders by 15pc to 83 cent, following a 25pc rise in earnings to €4.2bn last year.

On a like-for-like basis, earnings increased by 7pc.

Revenue for the year was up 6pc to €28.3bn.

Analysts at Davy Stockbrokers said the company had capacity to continue to find growth and return cash to shareholders.

The 2019 revenue was boosted by a $3.5bn (€3.2bn) acquisition of US cement maker Ash Grove Cement.

Last year, the group sold €2.1bn of assets, including a European distribution arm and its 50pc stake in Indian joint venture My Home Industries, and has reinvested €700m of the proceeds back into dozens of acquisitions.

CRH said performance was positive for its businesses in eastern and western Europe, which offset challenging trading conditions in the UK, where construction activity declined amid Brexit-related uncertainty.

In Ireland, sales and operating profits were well ahead of 2018 as the business benefited from continued market growth, underpinned by strong demand and some large projects in the Dublin region.

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