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April 24, 2019, 3:34 a.m. EDT

CRH expands buyback program after earnings growth

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By Carlo Martuscelli

CRH PLC (CRG.DB) said Wednesday that it is expanding its share-buyback program by 350 million euros ($393.2 million), citing a strong balance sheet and cash generation.

The Ireland-listed building materials group said it expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in the first half of the year in excess of EUR1.5 billion, ahead of the EUR1.13 billion recorded in the comparable period in 2018. The forecast reflects a mid-single-digit percentage increase in Ebitda on a like-for-like basis, combined with a contribution from acquisitions, CRH said.

CRH said it expects to complete the new EUR350 million tranche of its buyback program before August.

In the first quarter, like-for-like sales were up 7% on year. CRH said it benefited from mild weather and good momentum across most of its major markets.

The company said that in the seasonally more important second half of the year, Ebitda on a like-for-like basis is forecast ahead of the EUR2.24 billion reported in the previous-year period. This is due to growth in the U.S., supported by government infrastructure funding, as well as encouraging conditions in Europe.

CRH has also agreed to sell its European Shutters & Awnings business to StellaGroup for more than EUR300 million.

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