Kier upbeat as sales and profits rise

The construction and development company has announced strong interim results for the six months to the end of 2013.

Turnover was up by 47% to £1.43bn compared to £976m at 31 December 2012. Pre-tax profit saw an even greater uplift, with a 90% increase from £19.4m to £36.8m.

The interim statement attributed the growth to the acquisition of May Gurney in July 2013, however the company did take a profit hit due to a £22m one-off cost related to the transaction.

Paul Sheffield, chief executive, said: "The underlying performance of the group has been encouraging in the period. Given the continuing financial pressures in the markets, margins in our construction and services divisions remain resilient."

Kier also maintained construction margins despite market pressures, with a slight increase to 2.3% compared to 2.1% in the same period last year.

For the year ahead the company is looking at an order book with a total of more than £6bn.

Key projects for Kier in the North West include a £450m contract for the new Mersey Gateway bridge, the development of the £37.5m Chester Theatre, and the construction of the £11.5m Rochdale transport interchange.

Sheffield continued: "As reported at the year end, we are seeing early signs of economic recovery across the country. Our wider portfolio of offerings, strong cost management, a growing order book of over £6bn together with our strong capital structure, position us well for the future. We are encouraged by the prospects for the medium-term. We remain on course to meet the Board's expectations for the current financial year."

Sheffield is due to step down as chief executive of Kier Group in June 2014, and will be replaced by current finance director Haydn Mursell.

Kier shares were up slightly by 6% to 1830p this morning.

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