WS ATKINS, the engineering group, said yesterday its full year pre-tax profits had risen nine per cent to £100.2m, beating analysts expectations and sending its shares to their highest level in more than a month.
The company – which is helping build the Olympics, construct Crossrail and upgrade the M25 – said its defence, oil and gas sectors had performed strongly, as they saw less impact form the global economic downturn.
The Middle East and UK building markets were stabilising, it added.
“The UK economy will be bumping along with minor improvements … and with some minor downturns, for probably the next two years,”
chief executive Keith Clarke said yesterday.
The group also said it sees liquidity returning to its Middle East region, where it saw clients delaying bill payments during the year.
Panmure Gordon said while concerns about its Middle East exposure and general UK demand trends would remain dominant issues, it reiterated its “buy” stance due to the wide spread of its operations.
The broker praised the “diversified characteristics” of the work the engineer was involved in.
Atkins plans a final dividend of 17.25p , making a total 26p, up eight per cent.
During the second half of last year, the company laid off about 1,200 staff.
Most jobs were lost in its UK and Middle East commercial and residential property-facing businesses.
FAST FACTS WS ATKINS
&9679; Full year pre-tax profits at the company rose nine per cent to £100.2m.
&9679; Defence, oil and gas helped the company beat analyst expectations, as they were less impacted by the downturn.