DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish building materials group CRH (NYSE: CRH - news) said its chief executive will retire at the end of the year, as it posted a 3 percent drop in full-year operating profit amid challenging euro zone markets showing few signs of recovery.
A leading operator in the U.S. market where it is the main producer of asphalt for highway construction, CRH said the outlook for 2013 is promising for the group's operations in the United States, which it expects to trump weakness in the euro zone.
"We expect that ongoing improvements in our businesses in the Americas combined with further profit improvement initiatives throughout our operations will outweigh continuing trading pressures in our European segments," CRH Chief Executive Myles Lee said in a statement on Tuesday.
The group said Lee would step down from CRH at the end of 2013, following completion of a five year term as chief executive and 10 years as an executive director in a career spanning nearly 30 years.
The building sector, already facing the collapse of housing markets in Spain and other crisis-hit euro zone states, is a leading indicator of whether European companies are committing to the investment needed to prevent an extended downturn.
CRH's full-year profit before tax of 674 million euros in the 12 months to end-December was down from 711 million the previous year.
The company reported full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of approximately 1.64 billion euros, 1 percent down from last year.
Dublin-based CRH, which weathered the downturn in global construction markets better than many of its peers due to its conservative approach, has taken cost-cutting measures to offset the hit since the beginning of the crisis.
The company said in November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) it would squeeze further costs of 450 million euros (391 million pounds) out of their business over the next three years, after slashing more than 2 billion since 2007.
(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by David Holmes)