WS Atkins says better margins will lift results

 
Kasmira Jefford
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ENGINEERING consultancy WS Atkins yesterday said it expects full-year results to be ahead of market expectations after trading well in the fourth quarter of the year.

In a trading update, the FTSE 250 firm said that “positive momentum” across its UK business and better margins in the second half of the year will help it deliver slightly better-than-expected results for the year ended 31 March 2013.

Peel Hunt analysts have forecast a pre-tax profit of around £101.6m, when it reports its full-year results on 13 June, slightly lower than the £102m profit reported last year.

In February the group announced plans to sell its UK highways services business to construction firm Skanska in order to focus on higher growth areas like the Middle East.

The group expects to pay around £4m of restructuring costs this financial year but said this will be offset by a profit on the sale of around £15m in the next financial year.

In the US, WS Atkins said its consultancy business remained weak and margins were under pressure as a result of the need to sub-contract more services.

It also warned that Peter Brown, its construction management division, is now expected to report a loss of around £6m for the year.

“We have made good progress against our strategic priorities in the second half of this financial year. We will continue to vigorously pursue the implementation of our strategic objectives going forward,” the company said in statement.

Its shares closed one per cent higher at 896.5p yesterday.