Keith Clarke, the chief executive of Atkins, has said he is optimistic about trading, despite downgrades in profit forecasts across the consultant engineering sector.

Atkins reported a pre-tax profit rise of 11% for the six months to 30 September from £37.5m to £42.7m. Turnover rose 12% from £633.8m to £710.8m and the company said 87% of anticipated full-year turnover was already secured.

Clarke said: “These are strong results. While we remain attuned to the economic situation, the range of our business and its strength in depth gives us confidence for the remainder of this year.”

Francesca Raleigh, an analyst at Numis, has cut predicted turnover growth at Atkins from 7% to 3% for 2010. She has forecast a figure of £1.4bn and pre-tax profit of £102m. Downgrades have occurred across the sector over the past fortnight, after a profit warning from White Young Green.

The Gulf showed strong growth for Atkins, with turnover of £82m, up 55% on the same period last year. The region represents about 12% of turnover.

Clarke was optimistic about the Middle East market, in spite of evidence of a slowdown in Dubai. He said: “It’s quite clear that Dubai will slow down significantly, but it will slow down from a rate that was truly astounding to a rate that in any normal world we would see as quite impressive.”