Balfour Beatty Raises Dividend to Yield 4.9%


LONDON -- Balfour Beatty saw its share price lose more than 2% for the week, following the release of the company's final results for the year ended Dec. 31.

The international infrastructure group reported that underlying profits fell by 7% to 309 million pounds, down from 331 pounds million the previous year. Revenue decreased 1%, slipping to 10.90 million pounds from 11.04 billion pounds in 2011, while underlying earnings per share dropped off by a further 1%, or 0.5 pence, to stand at 35 pence per share for 2012.

Balfour did report an increase in its full-year dividend, however, raising it 2% to reach 14.1 pence. This puts the British construction group at a decent yield of 4.9%.

The company blamed continued weakness in the construction market both in the U.K. and the U.S. for the drop-off in profits, though it did see signs of growth in target markets. Indeed, chief executive Ian Tyler commented that this particular focus "is reflected in the continuing shift in our order book toward economic infrastructure."

Tyler continued:

We have delivered a set of results for the full year that demonstrated resilience in underlying earnings and a stable order book in the face of continuing challenging conditions in the construction markets in the U.K. and USA. We have also made good progress in the implementation of measures designed to increase organizational efficiency and are on track to realize the anticipated benefits.

While we still believe that construction markets in 2013 will be challenging, our actions to date and ongoing strategic focus on growth markets position us well for the medium term.

Balfour also announced that it has won a multimillion-pound rail contract to build 2 miles of the Crossrail route and a new rail station in London, to the tune of more than 130 million pounds, while a decision has been made to divest itself of the Mainland European rail operations, as it no longer fits the company's strategy.

This news follows a fall of 20% in a single day back in November, after announcing that its order book fell 4% in the third quarter, because of a "weaker-than-anticipated" U.K. performance and a depressed U.S. construction market. The shares regained much of their value, so some income investors may consider the fall in share price as a similarly lucrative chance to boost their high-yielding portfolios.

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