Balfour Beatty hopes it can make up profits as its markets stabilise

Marion Dakers
SHARES in Balfour Beatty jumped over three per cent yesterday after the infrastructure group said trading had been steady in the last two months.

The firm, which issued a profit warning in November and again in April, said market conditions remain “very challenging”.

Construction in the UK was weak, though the company said it expects to recoup losses sustained in the first half during the rest of the year.

Balfour’s professional services business in Australia has been hit by contract cancellations in the natural resources sector.

“[W]e expect our profits to be significantly more skewed to the second half than in previous years, with the full-year result remaining in line with management’s expectations,” Balfour said in a statement.

Balfour Beatty is expected to post a pre-tax profit of £190m for 2013, down 39 per cent, according to a poll of analysts.

Analysts at Investec, which has a ‘sell’ rating on the stock, were sceptical that the firm can make up the rest of its forecast profit during the rest of the year.

“With a Spending Review which did little to boost near term prospects in the UK, structural pressures on working capital, a deteriorating debt position and Professional Services also encountering some near term pressure, we see no reason to alter our bear stance,” said Andrew Gibb in a note. But relieved investors helped send the shares up 3.1 per cent to 226.36p yesterday.