Friday 17 August 2018

'Prolonged winter' hits sales at Ireland's biggest company

CRH chief Albert Manifold
CRH chief Albert Manifold
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Buildings materials giant CRH has reported a 2pc fall in like-for-like sales in the three months to 31 March.

Sales were impacted by "prolonged winter weather conditions" and the timing of Easter holidays, CRH said in a trading update ahead of its AGM today.

In Europe, like-for-like sales were down 2pc on the previous quarter, with recovery in certain key markets offset by adverse weather conditions and the timing of Easter holidays, which occurred in the second quarter of 2017.

Meanwhile in the Americas, unfavourable weather conditions impacted a number of key regions, the company said, and while the economic and business environment remained positive, like-for-like sales were down 3pc on its first quarter in 2017.

While in Asia, the group cited competitive market conditions in the Philippines impacting like-for-like sales, which were 5pc behind its first quarter of 2017.

Group earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) for the seasonally less significant first half of the year, is expected to be in line with the first half of 2017 on a like-for-like basis, Ireland’s biggest company said.

With normal weather patterns and in the absence of any major market dislocations, like-for-like EBITDA in the second half of the year is anticipated to be ahead of last year.

The group, which last year spent over €1.34bn on acquisitions, said that it is targeting a further €1.5bn to €2bn of divestments over the medium term.

Separately the group also announced its intention to introduce a share repurchase programme of up to €1bn to be completed over the next 12 months.

According to Davy analysts, the share buyback confirms the groups focus on shareholder value creation.

"This is further affirmation of CRH’s shareholder-focused capital allocation strategy," Robert Gardiner, analyst at Davy, said.

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