Grafton Expects More Profit in 2011 as U.K. Market Recovers

Grafton Group Plc (GN5) expects profit to improve this year, as a recovery in the U.K. housing market helps to boost demand for building materials, the company said in a statement distributed by the Regulatory News Service today.

U.K. like-for-like revenue rose 8 percent in the first two months of the year, Executive Chairman Michael Chadwick said in a telephone interview. The Dublin-based operator of home- improvement stores said net income for 2010 rose more than fourfold to 64 million euros ($88.8 million), from 13.4 million euros the previous year.

“In the U.K., the market has started to recover from the lows,” said Chadwick. “We would be optimistic that our Irish merchanting and retailing businesses can stay profitable.”

Grafton’s sales rose 1 percent, to 2 billion euros, while operating profit, before reorganization costs and amortization and impairment charges, rose 93 percent to 50.6 million euros.

Grafton shares fell by 1.3 percent to 3.767 euros in Dublin trading as of 8:23 a.m., valuing the company at 872 million euros. Grafton generates more than 70 percent of its sales, and almost all of its profit, from its U.K. business, according to Chadwick.

The Irish housing market is probably more than 90 percent below the peak and remains “very, very weak,” though it may have “bottomed,” Chadwick said. A recovery may begin to emerge in the next two to three years, he added.

To contact the reporters on this story: Finbarr Flynn in Dublin at fflynn3@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Colin Keatinge at ckeatinge@bloomberg.net

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