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CRH shares jump as boss predicts significant growth


Big hopes: Albert Manifold

Big hopes: Albert Manifold

Big hopes: Albert Manifold

CRH - Ireland's biggest company - is on the cusp of a "very significant growth period" and will benefit from an upswing in US construction activity that could last a decade, according to chief executive Albert Manifold.

Shares in the Irish building materials giant - which owns Belfast's Northstone - jumped yesterday after it revealed a strong first-half performance, driven by growth in America.

CRH has also agreed to pay $1.3bn (£850m) for US-based glazing firm CR Laurence.

The acquisition comes less than four weeks after CRH completed the €6.5bn (£4.74bn) acquisition of assets from rivals Holcim and Lafarge following their merger. It has also just gained a foothold in Australia, buying a small business there.

CRH's revenue in the first half of 2015 rose 13% to €9.4bn (£6.9bn), with a 26% rise in the Americas. Sales from continuing operations were 17% higher, rising 3% in Europe and 32% in the Americas.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 10% to €555m (£404m), helped by beneficial currency exchange rates.

While activity in the US was robust, Europe largely remains a mixed bag. Mr Manifold said CRH had "been to hell and back" in Europe over the past few years of the downturn.

He also told investors that CR Laurence (CRL) had the potential to be the first truly global business owned by CRH.

CRL's owners already had plans in place to further expand its presence in Europe and further afield.

CRL has about 60,000 customers throughout North America, and processes 7,000 orders a day there, worth an average of $350 (£255) each.

Of its orders, 65% are made over the internet.

The chief executive said that "at least" $40m of synergies could be extracted from the acquisition.

Belfast Telegraph