Chief executive Ian Grice blames difficulties in utilities market for fall in profits

Alfred McAlpine’s pre-tax profits have fallen by 8% for the six months to 30th June 2004. The contractor announced profits of £13.6m on an increased turnover of £431m. Dividends were up by 10% to 4.95p.

Group chief executive, Ian Grice said: ' Short-term difficulties in the utilities market are constraining our current profitability; however we are on course to deliver another year of growth. Beyond 2004, the prospects for returning to our target of double digit growth remain good.'

“Our business is now well-positioned in strong growth markets that deliver longer-term, lower-risk earnings. We have secured a number of contract wins in the first half of 2004 and our order book is up by 8% at £3.2bn.”

Earlier this year Alfred McAlpine lost a legal battle with contractor Robert McAlpine over its attempt to rebrand itself as McAlpine.

Alfred McAlpine was prevented from shortening its name to McAlpine by a High Court ruling, which said that the name change had amounted to misrepresentation and would cause confusion among customers.

It is understood that Alfred McAlpine spent £350,000 on rebranding itself as McAlpine and the High Court decision meant the firm had to incur further costs to revert to its original brand name.