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Balfour Beatty posts higher 2018 profit as turnaround plan pays off


Reuters

Carillion's collapse helps send more contracts Balfour Beatty's way


By Muvija M

March 13 (Reuters) - British construction group Balfour Beatty said on Wednesday it won more business following the collapse of Carillion as it reported a nearly 10 percent jump in full-year profit.

The bankruptcy of Carillion in January 2018 was seen as a watershed for Britain's construction sector that ended a race to the bottom in terms of pricing of bids for public sector work.

Shares of Balfour Beatty rose nearly 3 percent to 293.1 pence by 0846 GMT, outshining the broader midcap index.

"Leo Quinn has successfully proven that revenue is vanity and profits are sanity," said George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

But he added that the downfall of Carillion was a constant reminder of how little room for error there was in the industry.

That point is underlined by the plight of support services group Interserve where shareholders will vote on Friday on a debt-for-equity swap.

Quinn launched a turnaround plan after taking over at Balfour Beatty in 2015, his efforts chiefly involving a sharper focus on winning higher margin projects in its markets.

The company, which builds transportation, power and utility systems, attributed the rise in 2018 profit to its turnaround plan and its more selective approach to contracts.

Underlying pretax profit climbed to 181 million pounds ($238 million) for 2018 from 165 million pounds a year earlier, the company said, adding that margins in the United States and the UK came in above its target in the second half of the year.

The FTSE 250-listed company said its order book rose 11 percent to 12.6 billion pounds at the end of 2018.

Quinn said the impact of Brexit on its operations would be minimal since it was a local business, but it had contingency plans in place to ensure it can continue to deliver on current and future work commitments.

($1 = 0.7620 pounds)










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