Henry Boot back in black

The diverse developer, contractor and plant hire group reported pre-tax profit of £18.9m for 2010 compared to a loss of £11.9m in 2009.

Net asset value rose 7% to 145p a share. Net debt reduced to £11.4m, or 6% of equity, from £32.1m in 2009.

John Reis, chairman, in his final statement before retiring, said: "I am pleased to report a significantly improved set of results for the year ended 31 December 2010, particularly given the continued challenging market conditions prevailing in the UK property and construction markets during the period."

The group disposed of developments in South Shields, Mansfield and Port Talbot during the year as it sought to raise cash and strengthen the balance sheet.

Reis added: "Commercial property development remains difficult, the combination of construction, tenant and valuation risk remains high, although the more stable market means that selectively we have commenced development once again with a foodstore-led, retail development in Warminster, pre-let to Waitrose. In addition, we have signed up several development opportunities, some as joint ventures with the landowners, where we expect to add value in the longer term.

"The construction division generated another positive financial result as work continued on the Rotherham and Doncaster Decent Homes programmes, and work commenced at Eastlands, Manchester. As in previous years, much of the construction division's work is either local authority or centrally funded and we expect that the public spending cuts will reduce potential contract workloads and increase pricing pressure as more firms compete for less work. At 31 December 2010, as in previous years, about 70% of 2011's budgeted activity was already contracted.

"At our plant hire business, activity levels in 2010 recovered slightly although the bad weather in January and December did have an adverse impact on trading. Whilst we increased capital expenditure over 2009, our plant business in 2010 was cash generative once again."

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