This Week's Falling Knife: Balfour Beatty


LONDON -- Shares in Balfour Beatty (ISE: BBY.L) plunged by 20% to 245.60 pence yesterday after announcing that its order book fell 4% in the third quarter, due to a "weaker-than-anticipated" U.K. performance and a depressed U.S. construction market, the company's two major markets.

Market deterioration has pushed Balfour Beatty to migrate toward "smaller contracts in a market with very few major projects," with around half the order book now in regional business, compared to approximately a third at the same point last year.

Accordingly, full-year profits for the U.K.'s biggest construction company have been revised to a figure approximately £10 million lower than previously expected. Elsewhere, Balfour Beatty's professional services division continues to perform strongly, while support services saw trading "consistent with expectations in the period."

There were few, yet some positives to take from the Q3 interim management statement, including the prospects for Balfour Beatty's U.S. civil infrastructure business, with some "large design-build and PPP projects being tendered into the market."

The construction company also declared that it has been managing its business on the basis that market conditions would be tough, and swift measures -- such as Balfour Beatty axing 660 back-office jobs as part of cost-cutting measures -- show a firm statement of intent to mitigate adverse impacts.

So the question is whether the share-price crash is a buying opportunity for investors? Back in August the company lifted its dividend, offering a 4.7% yield.

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