Kier Builds Bigger Profits

Kier Group (ISE: KIE.L) -- the leading construction, services, and property group -- is currently up just over 1% on release of its preliminary results for the year to June 30, 2012.

Adverse U.K. market conditions resulted in a 5% drop in revenue for the year, at £2,069 million, but operating profits were up 5% on 2011 at £74.4 million. Pre-tax profit was also up 2% at £70 million, and adjusted earnings-per-share rose 6% to 156.8 pence.

Paul Sheffield, chief executive, commented:

Kier is responding well in the current market and has achieved another solid set of results for the year. Our underlying pre-tax profit, earnings per share and full-year dividend are all ahead of last year, with strong order books for Construction and Services and cash at healthy levels after considerable investment during the year. This has been achieved in tough markets and over the last few years we have focused on strategies that are now helping to protect us from the worst of those external pressures.

Trading conditions will remain demanding in our core markets for some time. However, the business has proven to be resilient and we will maintain a focus on the market sectors which we believe have the greatest growth potential, continuing to invest and redeploy our resources to progress our strategy.

While still some 45% off its 2007 high, Kier's share price is making steady, if choppy, progress, and is now almost double its 2008 low. With its order book remaining steady at £4.3 billion, Kier seems well positioned to survive the recent downturn in British construction activity, which has seen new orders falling at the fastest rate since the credit crunch.

And with the full-year dividend being raised 2 pence to 66 pence, Kier currently stands to yield close to 5%, which could interest income-seeking investors.

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