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Kentz posts 9pc jump in earnings

IRISH engineering group Kentz posted a nine per cent rise in full-year pre-tax profit, boosted by a higher backlog of orders and increased revenue from its construction segment, and said it was comfortable with market expectations for 2010.

The company, which raised its total dividend by five per cent to six cents a share, said it was well placed to continue to deliver strong growth.

Analysts on average were looking for pre-tax profit of $51.9m (£35m) on revenue of $845.2m for 2010.

The company had about $134.1m of its own cash at the end of 2009, and would look to allocate at least $60m of that amount to fund acquisitions this year, chief executive Hugh O’Donnell said.

“We still see the Middle East region having a lot of growth and opportunity, particularly Iraq, Syria and Oman,” he added.

Kentz, which focuses on the oil and gas industry worldwide, said the Middle East accounted for 63 per cent of its total revenue in 2009.

Shares of the company, whose customers include Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil, have risen 20 per cent in value over the last six months.

FinnCap, which has a “buy” rating on the stock, said the company’s shares should continue their positive performance.