Sunday 16 September 2018 7:10 pm

Hedge funds circle Kier as construction giant "under shadow of Carillion"


Hedge funds that made millions from the collapse of Carillion have turned their attentions to Kier as it prepares to shed light on its cost saving plan.

The construction giant will reveal details of its streamlining and efficiency programme, alongside its yearly results, later this week.

Short-sellers have built a 17.3 per cent short position in its shares, according to data from IHS Markit, making it the third most shorted stock on the London Stock Exchange.

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BlackRock Investments and GMT Capital Corp, who both made bets against Carillion, are among those to move on the Bedfordshire-based builder.

Last month the company launched its “efficiency and streamlining programme” Future Proofing Kier.

It said good progress had been made in identifying potential cost savings but more detail is set to be announced along with its financial results on Thursday.

It closed overseas businesses in Hong Kong and the Caribbean last year as it focused on improving margins and cash generation.

Equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, George Salmon, said Kier's margins were “wafer thin” but said the company had a plan.

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He said: “Like others in construction services, Kier is still working out from under the shadow of Carillion.

“As is typical in this industry, its margins are wafer thin, just 2.8 per cent in the first six months of its financial year.”

Salmon added Kier's order book seemed to be growing while rivals had seen theirs shrink and if the results also improved it would “worthy of reward”.