Irish materials firm’s profit expected to rise 13% despite a predicted loss at Ibstock Brick.

Building materials group CRH is expected to announce a full year profit before tax of £830m.

In the UK CRH said that demand for bricks in the UK declined during the year but the firm predicted its Ibstock business would experience a modest decline in profits. It said that strong pricing, improved factory and energy efficicency and good cost control had minimised losses.

In the first half of the year the company said that strong organic growth in America had helped to compensate for subdued markets and adverse weather in European businesses.

CRH said its European market improved in the second half of the year and announced that American operations coped well with higher energy costs. Pre-tax profit in the second half of the year was expected to increase to about £575m.

CRH said that in 2006 it would focus on acquisitions and would continue to improve efficiency to offset the rise in energy prices.