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CRH lifts dividend despite profit fall

Building materials distributor CRH lifted its dividend on Thursday even as it reported a decline in full-year profit and revenue, after what it called a “challenging year”, hit by disruption from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Full-year pre-tax profit fell to $1.66bn from $2.18bn in 2019, with sales revenue down 2% to $27.6bn. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 5% to $4.6bn.

The company lifted its full-year dividend by 25% to 115 cents a share and said it was recommencing its share buyback programme.

Meggitt said 2020 was challenging due to “significant” Covid-19 related disruption in the economies and construction markets of North America and Europe.

Economic activity in North America was impacted by the pandemic, but this was partly offset by government stimulus efforts. Like-for-like sales in Americas Materials declined 3% compared to 2019, mainly due to Covid restrictions, project delays in some key states and unfavourable weather in the first half of the year.

In the Europe Materials segment, Meggitt said saw volume recovery in the second half of the year and good price discipline did not fully mitigate the impact of Covid-related shutdowns earlier in the year, with LFL sales down 5% on 2019.

The company’s Building Products business benefited from strong residential repair, maintenance and improvement activity in North America, which offset lower activity levels in non-residential markets. The division delivered LFL sales 4% ahead of 2019.

Chief executive Albert Manifold said: “Although the near-term outlook remains uncertain, our unique portfolio of businesses together with the strength of our balance sheet leaves us well positioned to capitalise on the growth opportunities that lie ahead.”

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