November 26, 2019 / 9:50 AM / 12 days ago

CRH shares near three-year high after strong third quarter

DUBLIN, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Ireland’s CRH reported a 9% rise in third-quarter profit on a like-for-like basis helped by strong demand and pricing which it expects to continue in 2020, lifting shares close to three-year highs on Tuesday.

The world’s second-biggest building materials supplier by market value said it expects 2019 earnings of 4.15 billion euros, including its European distribution unit which it sold for 1.64 billion euros this year.

Excluding that business, that implies like-for-like growth of 7%, analysts at Goodbody Stockbrokers estimated.

The group’s shares were up 1.75% at 34.65 euros at 0945 GMT, near the 34.87 euros high the stock reached in May 2017.

The increased earnings growth in the three months to the end of September was driven by a 12% year on year rise in its Americas materials division, where CRH is the biggest producer of asphalt for highway construction.

Like-for-like earnings at its building products and Europe Materials divisions rose by 3% and 6%, respectively.

In its Western and Eastern European markets it saw volumes growth while construction activity in the United Kingdom continued to decline amid Brexit-related uncertainty.

After a busy period buying and selling businesses, Chief Executive Albert Manifold said he would rather not be distracted by big acquisitions with recent deals still bedding down, but would “never say never” if a compelling opportunity came along.

“We expect the positive underlying momentum in our businesses to continue and we look forward to another year of progress,” Manifold said on a conference call. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; editing by Jason Neely)

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