Contractor says 2004 profits were on track despite losses in US and Balfour Beatty Rail.

Balfour Beatty has announced that it is on track to meet profit expectations for the year ended 31 December 2004. It said its trading environment would continue to be healthy during 2005 and it would generate sustainable income.

In the building sector Balfour Beatty said orders were at satisfactory levels. The company said it had secured substantial contracts and preferred bidder status on major new PPP schools and healthcare projects in Birmingham, Scotland, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.

Balfour Beatty said the growth of Mansell, which Balfour Beatty acquired at the end of 2003, more than offset the profits foregone as a result of the sale of Andover Controls, which raised an exceptional profit of £120m.

Overseas the group said that substantial costs in the heavy marine engineering business would be reflected in the 2004 results. It said the division had now been closed and that the rest of its US interests had been reorganised. The company was more upbeat about its prospects in Dubai and Hong Kong, where it said there were opportunities for long-term growth.

The group said Balfour Beatty Rail had been downsized and reorganised as a result of losses. The group said that the renewals workload for the London Underground was increasing sharply, and said UK projects, plant and track systems businesses were performing well.

Balfour Beatty said encouraging progress had been made in utilities contracting, where major contracts had been secured in the gas and water sectors. It won a £300m Highways Agency Area 2 Enhanced Managing Agent Contractor contract late in the last year.