Profits Crash By 99% At Balfour Beatty Plc

The shares of Balfour Beatty (LSE: BBY) slumped 5% 237p this morning after the global construction firm  revealed its operating profits had sunk from £98m to £1m in the first half of the year.

Investors were already braced for bad news, driven by disappointing performance in Balfour’s UK construction division as expected. On an underlying basis, the company’s profits dropped less severely — from £156m to £52m. Nevertheless, the market was disappointed, sending Balfour’s shares plummeting.

The group’s revenue for the period dropped by 3% to £4.3bn, but Balfour’s order book grew by 3% to almost £14bn, buoyed by activity in the company’s US division. In news that may relieve some income-minded investors, Balfour confirmed it would maintain its interim dividend of 5.6 pence per share.

Commenting on the results, Balfour’s chief executive Andrew McNaughton added:

“Our markets continue to be challenging, but our actions are delivering the intended results. With sustained focus on operational delivery, we expect to achieve a performance in our continuing operations that is in line with the current market expectations for 2013.”

With a market cap of £1.6bn, Balfour Beatty’s shares trade at 10 times expected earnings, and offer an impressive prospective dividend yield of 5.7%.

Of course, whether that valuation, today’s results and the future prospects for the construction industry all combine to make shares of Balfour Beatty a ‘buy’ remains your decision.

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> Mark does not own any share mentioned in this article.