Operating profit at Allied Building Products jumped 159% in the first half of 2011 from the same period a year ago to reach $7 million, the company's corporate parent Irish building material giant CRHannounced today.

Net sales rose 13% to $820.4 million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) during the period also increased 13% to $21 million at the East Rutherford, N.J.-based company. EBITDA margin remained the same between the first half of 2010 and the first half of 2011 at 2.6%.

Earnings were originally reported in Euros, but converted to U.S. dollars based on the average conversion rates for the first six months of 2011 and 2010 as supplied by CRH.

CRH said it was difficult to pass on supplier price increases on exterior building products during the six month period because there was little improvement in residential construction activity.

"Continuing good demand in certain of our markets, primarily the Western, Mountain, and Midwestern states, underpinned an improvement in sales for the period," said CRH. "However will a less favorable mix, profits were similar to last year."

Allied's interior building products were dependent on new commercial construction and was helped by strong performances its California, Texas and Carolina markets.

In June, CRH acquired Michigan's Astro Building Products and Austin Acoustical Materials in Texas in an attempt to bolster its American distribution network.

Overall, CRH reported sales of $11.4 billion for the first six months of 2011, a 12% increase over the same period a year ago. Gross profit also rose 11.6% to $2.9 billion. EBITDA almost tripled to $133 million.