Consultant posts strong half-year results and says 87% of expected full-year revenue secure

Consultant Atkins has reported a first-half pre-tax profit rise of 11% after a strong performance in the Middle East.

Shares in the firm were up more than 11% this morning as it said the outlook for the rest of the year was good and that 87% of anticipated full-year revenue was already secured.

Atkins' Dubai turbines
Bahrain’s World Trade Centre, designed by Atkins Middle East, has wind turbines as part of its structure

The group posted pre-tax profit of £42.7m for the six months to 30 September, up from £37.5m for the same period last year. Revenue rose 12% to £710.8m from £633.8m in 2007.

Operating profit was £48.2m, up 20% on last year's £40.1m, and operating margin was 6.8%, up 0.5% from 6.3% last year.

Growth was particularly strong in the Gulf region, where revenue was £82m, up 55% on the same period last year. The region now represents more than 10% of the group's activity.

Staff numbers have grown 8% since the same time last year, with 18,322 employees at 30 September.

Atkins chief executive Keith Clarke said: “These are strong results. Whilst we remain attuned to the wider economic situation, the range of our business and its strength in depth gives us continued confidence for the remainder of this year.

“Looking further ahead, our secure position allows us to continue to invest in carbon-critical design and our focus on excellence has positioned the group to respond with confidence to the challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Analyst Numis said: “The engineering consultancy space has been unloved these last 12 months and underperformed significantly. WS Atkins scores well in these times when investors are looking for relative security.”