Building materials company Hanson has announced a slight drop in pre-tax profit for the 12 months to 31 December.
Profit fell by less than 1% from £351m in 2001 to £350.3m. Turnover also fell, by £10m to £3.954bn.

Hanson has been particularly hard hit in North America, with a decline in trading profit of £42.3m. The Asian market also announced a fall in trading profit of £5.7m. However, Hanson's European division showed an increase in trading profit of £13.5m.

Hanson chief executive Alan Murray said: "A focus on cost control, operational efficiency and price improvement helped the group hold its pre-tax, pre-exceptional profit at last year's level, despite a 4.3% decline in total revenue and adverse currency movements."

Murray said that the North American market would remain difficult but the strength of the UK and Australian markets was expected to offset these problems A Hanson spokesperson said the company hoped to increase the amount spent on acquisitions over the next 12 months. Most purchases will be in the USA, where the building materials market is less consolidated. Hanson has a 6-7% market share in the USA and a 20% share in the UK.