Balfour Beatty’s turnaround efforts made further progress at the start of 2017 after the firm’s half-year financial figures revealed a rise in pre-tax profits to £12 million, compared with a £15m loss a year ago.

Revenue for the first half of 2017 is also up, from £3,976m to £4,201m.

Having spent two years working to simplify its business and improve controls over how it pitches for new contracts, Balfour is now focusing on improving profit margins.

Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn said the business will be making “industry standard” margins by this time next year.

Under his ‘Build to Last’ turnaround programme, the company has simplified its focus, quit the Middle East and instilled some bidding discipline instead of simply chasing workload. The order book is down 8% on a year ago at £11.4bn due to more selective bidding.

He added: “These results demonstrate the transformation being driven by focusing Balfour Beatty relentlessly on its chosen markets and capabilities. Profitability is rising, backed by positive cash flow from operations, and the Group had average net cash during the period; all achieved without any material investment disposals. The balance sheet remains strong, underpinned by the £1.2 billion Investments portfolio.

“Under stronger leadership and much improved bidding disciplines, the businesses are booking new orders at improved margins and reduced risk. Our infrastructure pipeline in the US and UK remains buoyant and the Group continues to win landmark contracts such as the Dallas Southern Gateway and HS2.

“All of this gives us confidence that the Group remains on track to achieve industry-standard margins in the second half of 2018, and in line with this, we are declaring an interim dividend of 1.2 pence per share.”

Balfour Beatty is working on the Kennedy Street student accommodation project in Glasgow, and has secured a £16m contract with Network Rail for the redevelopment of the city’s Queen Street Station.

In addition, the group will install a new overhead line to connect the Dorenell wind farm, near Dufftown in Moray, for SSE Networks.

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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