Ireland: CRH has forecast earnings growth of close to 10% for the first half of the year as it reported 'modest growth' in Ireland.
CRH said that group sales for the first four months of 2015 rose by 2.5% compared with the same period of 2014. The strong performance was largely driven by positive momentum in the Americas, where the economic and business environment remained upbeat. Sales in the US rose by 8% as CRH benefited from improving construction activity. In Europe, trends are improving across CRH's main markets, but sales fell by 2%. In Ukraine, CRH said that the markets were resilient despite the political instability, but that cement volumes were below the prior year. CRH reported a 'continued recovery in market conditions' in Ireland and said that it was 'well-positioned to benefit from modest growth.'
Looking to the first six months of 2015, CRH said that it expected earnings to be 'close to 10% ahead of last year on a constant currency basis' and predicted further progress in the second half of the year with earnings again ahead of 2014. These forecasts do not take into consideration the impact of CRH's proposed acquisition of certain assets from Lafarge and Holcim for Euro6.5bn.
CRH disposed of assets worth Euro540m in the first four months of 2015, bringing total proceeds from its divestment programme to Euro900m since its inception in August 2014. CRH said that its cost-reduction programme remained on track to deliver a further Euro75m of savings in 2015, which would bring cumulative (2007 - 2015) savings to Euro2.6bn.