Even high oil prices don’t stop CRH from making a positive start to 2005

Ian Guider

Mr Molloy told shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) that although trading has been strong, the effects of high oil prices and poor weather in Europe had offset some of the gains made in the first four months of the year.

He said poor weather conditions in Finland, Poland and Switzerland had hit its European materials division in the early part of the year, but have recovered in recent weeks.

He added: “The overall economic backdrop for our Europe products and distribution activities in the Benelux, Germany and France remains subdued and trading over the early less busy months was not helped by severe March weather.”

The Irish construction market continued to grow strongly, with volumes ahead in most categories.

Mr Molloy said the company’s oil bill had increased by E50 million last year, but would seek price increases from its customers to offset the impact on profits.

“Energy markets remain volatile and higher input costs are generally a feature across our operations.

However, we are encouraged by results to date in achieving cost recovery and look to further gains in this regard in the busier months ahead.” On a positive note, the company’s US operations have “exceeded expectations” so far with all of its main divisions in America ahead.

“The indications from early awards of highway sector paving contracts suggest good progress in our efforts to improve product prices and recover higher input costs, while backlogs are solid,” Mr Molloy told a packed AGM.

CRH said its spend on acquisitions, at E100 million, was lower than in recent years, but it still saw “significant opportunities for acquisitions“.

Shares in CRH ended the day up 18 cent at 19.63.

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