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News : Irish Last Updated: May 6, 2010 - 5:05:39 AM

CRH reports 14% like-for-like sales fall in first four months of 2010
By Finfacts Team
May 5, 2010 - 6:55:48 AM

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CRH, the global building materials group, was formed through a merger in 1970 of two leading Irish public companies, Cement Limited (established in 1936) and Roadstone Limited (1949). CRH accounts for more than one third of market capitalisation on the Irish Stock Exchange and up to 90% of CRH's shares are held outside Ireland. About 2,000 of CRH's payroll of more than 94,000, are located in Ireland.

CRH plc, which is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland and is the second-biggest building materials supplier in the world, and the market leader in the United States, in a trading statement issued this morning, reported that like-for-like sales fell 14% in the first four months of 2010, compared with the same period in 2009.

Before the start of trading today, the market capitalisation of CRH was € 14.2bn - - about one-third of the total of the Irish stock exchange. The interim management statement says as was indicated with the preliminary 2009 results in early March, trading in January and February was particularly difficult because of exceptionally harsh winter weather conditions in Northern Europe and North America. As a result group like-for-like sales for the first two months of 2010 fell by 23.5% compared with 2009. More normal seasonal weather patterns in March and April together with a rebound from the very depressed activity levels of prior months saw a combined like-for-like sales decline of 7% for these months resulting in a reduction of approximately 14% for the first four months of the year. Based on the March/April trends CRH says it anticipates that the cumulative sales decline will continue to moderate over the coming months and the group expect like-for-like sales for the first half of 2010 will be approximately 10% below first half 2009 with an expected high-teen percentage decline at EBITDA (Enterprise Value/Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization or Enterprise Multiple) level (2009: €0.65bn).

EBITDA in the seasonally more important second half will be ahead of last year (2009: €1.15bn) and today's statement was issued in advance of the Annual General Meeting which is being held today at 11.00 am in Dublin.

Overall, CRH's European operations have seen a like-for-like sales decline of 23% for January/February moderate to a cumulative decline of approximately 14% for the first four months. The group expects that the coming months will see a continuing improvement in comparisons versus prior year particularly in the Materials operations in Poland and Finland which have experienced a good recovery in overall demand following a harsh winter.

In the Americas, a like-for-like US$ sales decline of approximately 25% for January/February moderated to a cumulative decline of 14% for the first four months. While CRH expects that challenging trading conditions in non-residential markets will continue, recent improving trends in residential RMI (repair, maintenance) activity levels suggest that the broader housing market is close to bottom. The group anticipates a good pick up in infrastructure activity in the coming months and look to a strong performance from the Materials operations in the more important second half trading period.  


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