CRH's capital allocation policy reflects the Group's strategy of generating industry-leading returns through value-accretive allocation of capital, while delivering long-term dividend growth for shareholders.
Further to the 6% dividend increase in 2018, an interim dividend of 20.0c (2018: 19.6c) per share was paid in September 2019 and the Board is recommending a final dividend of 63.0c per share. This would give a total dividend of 83.0c for the year (2018: 72.0c), an increase of 15% over last year, resetting the dividend to a higher level reflecting the Group's sustainably higher profits and cash generation. The continuing operations earnings per share for the year were 202.2c, representing a cover of 2.4 times the proposed dividend for the year.
The Board continues to believe that a progressive dividend policy is appropriate for the Group. Their target is to build dividend cover to 3 times before one-off items over the medium-term and, accordingly, any dividend increases in the coming years are expected to lag increases in earnings per share. It is proposed to pay the final dividend on 28 April 2020 to shareholders registered at the close of business on 13 March 2020. The final dividend will be paid wholly in cash.
Other financial highlights include:
€4.2bn EBITDA, +25% ahead of 2018 (+7% LFL)
€28.3bn sales, +6% ahead (+3% LFL)
Margin increase of +230bps
€3.5bn cash generated; €1.4bn returned to shareholders
Robust financial discipline; net debt/EBITDA of 1.7x