Balfour’s shares nosedive after profits fall 70pc

INFRASTRUCTURE group Balfour Beatty posted a 70 per cent fall in first-half pre-tax profit yesterday as the already well-flagged problems in its British and Australian businesses took their toll, causing shares to plunge almost seven per cent.

The group’s British regional construction unit, under new management since April, made an operational loss of £41m in the first six months of 2013, down from a £59m profit a year earlier.

Cancellations of natural resources projects and public sector spending cuts in Australia also helped push profit at its professional services division down 38 per cent.

The firm said that it is focusing its attention on turning around the two struggling businesses.

“We are pleased to report that, while it is early days, our action plans are delivering the intended results,” the firm said.

Balfour flagged in July that profits for the year would be weighted towards the second half. The combination of a weak British construction sector, a lack of major infrastructure projects and poor performance led Balfour to issue its second profit warning in six months back in April.

The firm, which recently sold its British facilities management business to French company GDF Suez for £190m, said that it expects to perform in line with current market expectations for the full year.

Balfour’s shares closed 6.8 per cent lower at 233.10p.