Tuesday 20 August 2019

CRH sizes up further share buybacks

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Ireland's biggest company, CRH, is contemplating more share buybacks after it returned an additional €350m of cash to shareholders.

The global building materials group said further buybacks "are under active consideration", the details of which would be announced as part of the firm's interim results later this month.

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Between April 29 and August 7 this year, 12.2 million ordinary CRH shares were repurchased on the London Stock Exchange and Euronext Dublin, at a typical discount of 0.75pc to the volume-weighted average price over the period.

This brings total cash returned to shareholders under the group's ongoing share buyback programme to €1.35bn since its commencement in May last year.

Elsewhere, Fitch Ratings has upgraded CRH's long-term issuer default rating to BBB+ from BBB with a stable outlook.

Robert Gardiner, analyst with Davy Stockbrokers, said the upgrade reflects Fitch's view of improvements in the group's profitability and financial structure.

"This is partly driven by the changing business mix, which includes the distribution disposals and the Ash Grove acquisition," Mr Gardiner added.

Analysts expect CRH's net debt to earnings ratio to fall "comfortably" below two times, further enhancing the company's financial flexibility.

Last month, US private equity giant Blackstone bought CRH's European distribution arm for €1.64bn.

CRH said in February it had launched a strategic review of the unit, which operates in Germany, France, Switzerland and the Benelux countries.

In 2018, CRH delivered record earnings of €3.37bn on sales of €26.8bn.

Shares in the company were down slightly in afternoon trading yesterday.

Irish Independent

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