Exceptional charges all but wipeout profits, but shares rally for the construction and support services firm.

Alfred McAlpine has announced an underlying 6% increase in pre-tax profits to £38.2 million for 2004. The premlininary results for the year ended 31 December were marred by exceptional charges which reduced profit to £3m.

The group’s pre-tax profits for the year ended 31 Decemeber 2004 dropped to £3m when £8 million goodwill amortisation and £27 million exceptional charges were taken into account.

Share prices fell earlier in the week in anticipation of today’s figures, but they’d recovered by lunchtime rising 17p to 312p.

Group chief executive Ian Grice said: “We have once again delivered both top line and underlying profit growth. Despite challenges in one of our key markets and the exceptional charges, these results demonstrate the strength of our business model.”

In his chairman’s statement, Oliver Whitehead said that the £27 million charge came from the resolution of issues associated with the acquisition of Ryan Utility Services, and to worsening turn-out losses on two construction contracts which commenced in 2000 and 2001. He said: “the exceptional charges have not had a material impact on our year-end cash position.”