Hanson withstands "difficult" UK housing market to predict 12% rise in profit.

Hanson has predicted that pre-tax profit for 2005 will rise from between 11% and 13% to about £422m.

Hanson said the increase was achieved despite significant cost inflation and a difficult second half of the year in the UK housing market.

It predicted that in the short-term weak demand in the UK and higher energy costs could impact on results in the first half of 2006.

Alan Murray, chief executive, said: “Hanson has delivered significant growth this year through increased earnings, increased acquisition spend and increased total shareholder return.”

Murray said that the increased selling prices in the first half of the year had been maintained in most markets.

Hanson said it had made cost savings of £10m at its UK aggregates division as a result of a 2004 reorganisation.

It said that volumes for aggregates and ready-mixed concrete were lower than 2005 while asphalt volumes were expected to be slightly ahead of 2004.

In the UK building products division, brick volumes fell by 10% but the impact was offset by higher selling prices.

Five acquisitions worth £35m were completed in the second half of the year bringing the total for the year to £340m.

Despite the fall off of UK deamnd Hanson said it expected to make further progress in 2006 based on strong international market positions, value adding acquisitions and continued financial discipline.

Hanson will announce its results for the year ending December 31 2005 on February 23 2006.