CRH sales soar with American trade buoyant
Sales at Ireland's biggest company CRH - which owns Northern Ireland firm Northstone - shot up by 35% to €12.7bn (£10.86bn) in the first six months of the year as the company reported continuing momentum in its Americas business.
Profit before tax at the building materials firm increased by €344m (£294m) to €407m (£348m) as the company upped its dividend by 1.6% to €0.188 (£0.16).
Net debt at the business climbed to €7.1bn (£6.07bn), up from the €5.9bn (£5.05bn) figure reported at the same time last year.
CRH - which employs nearly 1,000 people in Northern Ireland through Northstone and its subsidiaries - said the increased number reflects the firm's major spend on acquisitions in the second half of 2015.
The impact of Brexit is still unclear, in the medium-term at least. CRH said its outlook for its European business for the rest of this year is for a continuation of the trends seen in the first six months.
The Irish company is expecting its good momentum in the American construction markets to continue too.
CRH chief executive Albert Manifold said the firm had a "very satisfactory" start to 2016.
"Good performance from our heritage businesses and contributions from 2015 acquisitions delivered significant profit growth for CRH," he added.
"As always, we have maintained a strong focus on cash management, and with de-leveraging ahead of plan, I am pleased to report that we expect year-end debt metrics to be at, or below, normalised levels."
CRH employs 17,500 people in 18 countries.
Northstone (NI) Limited is based in Dunmurry and consists of Farrans - part of CRH since 1978 - Northstone Materials and Cubis, a manufacturer of access chambers and ducting systems.
In its most recent results for 2014, Northstone reported turnover of £298m, up from 24.6% on 2013.
However, pre-tax profits were down from £6m to £4m.