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CRH Pounded by Weaker Outlook

CRH shares fall sharply after the construction materials producer says weak infrastructure spending in the U.S. will hurt earnings in the back half of 2010.

DUBLIN, Ireland (


) -- American depositary receipts of


(CRH) - Get CRH PLC American Depositary Shares Report

were Tuesday's biggest laggard after the global construction materials producer offered a weaker-than-expected outlook.

CRH shares plummeted more than 18% in early trading, hitting a fresh 52-week low of $14.76, before rebounding somewhat. With an hour left in the trading session Tuesday the stock was down 15.2% to $15.29.

"Today's pullback reflects

CRH's weaker guidance," Longbow Research analyst Garik Shmois told


, and that led to a negative read-through for industry peers as well.

ADRs of

Cemex SAB

(CX) - Get Cemex S.A.B. de C.V. Sponsored ADR Report

fell 4.2% while shares of

Vulcan Materials

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TheStreet Recommends

(VMC) - Get Vulcan Materials Company (Holding Company) Report

lost 2.5% and

Martin Marietta Materials

(MLM) - Get Martin Marietta Materials Inc. Report

4.6%. The

Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US

(VEU) - Get Vanguard FTSE All-World ex-US Index Fund Report

, an exchange-traded fund that counts CRH and Cemex among its holdings, fell 1.4%.

CRH pre-released its financial results in early July and indicated that EBITDA in the second half of the year would be an improvement year-over-year.

Tuesday's report of official results for the six months ended June 30 caught Wall Street by surprise because the Irish company materially altered that view. CRH said 2010 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization would be down by around 10% year-over-year, implying a flat-to down second half, Shmois explained.

CRH's performance is driven sharply by a weaker construction situation in the U.S., Shmois said.

Weaker-than-expected data released Tuesday by the National Association of Realtors did little to boost shareholders' confidence in CRH, though Shmois said home construction materials accounts for a relatively small percentage of its business.

Existing-home sales plummeted 27.2% to a 15-year low in July

, the NAR reported.

>>Existing-Home Sales: Winners and Losers

More pertinent to CRH's revised outlook was a sharp pullback in spending on highways and bridges, Shmois cautioned. "State budgets over the last two to three months are really coming under greater pressure and negatively impacting demand for CRH's products," he said, including asphalt and aggregates, or crushed stone used in asphalt and concrete.

Despite CRH's downwardly revised outlook, Shmois maintained a neutral rating on the company's shares.

-- Written by Miriam Marcus Reimer in New York.

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