Security barrier maker Hill & Smith rose to the top of the FTSE 250 this morning after it revealed annual profits had jumped as the increased threat of terror in the UK "intensified" demand.
On an underlying basis, the manufacturing and infrastructure firm reported pre-tax profit jumped 15 per cent to £78.5m while revenue rose to a record £585.1m from £540.1m the previous year.
The firm proposed a dividend of 30p per share, up 14 per cent from 2016, and shares rose 9.79 per cent to 1,357p in morning trading.
Why it's interesting
Hill & Smith, which is involved in the UK's smart motorway programme and also makes the security barriers used around vulnerable sites like Whitehall and Windsor Castle, the site of the upcoming Royal Wedding in May, hailed its "best ever trading performance" in 2017.
The company said the "increased threat of terrorism in the UK" had pushed up demand for its hostile vehicle mitigation products, like temporary and permanent steel and concrete barriers.
"Discussions are being held with security agencies outside the UK and we expect this market to continue to grow," Hill & Smith said.
The firm also benefited from construction to make Britain's motorways more technologically advanced, but demand for rental temporary safety barriers was lower in the second half of the year as the next phase of the smart motorways project was delayed until 2018.
What Hill & Smith said
Derek Muir, chief executive, said targeted bolt-on acquisitions and the restructuring of under-performing assets had supported the firm's best year yet.
Our performance remains underpinned by our consistent and proven strategy of international diversity combined with the leading positions our businesses hold in their respective markets. Prospects in our core US and UK infrastructure markets as well as the other geographies in which we operate continue to be positive for 2018 and beyond.
Overall, despite political and macro-economic uncertainties, we remain well positioned to again deliver another year of progress.