CITY Analyst Arbuthnot has recommended that investors buy shares in a string of construction companies this year, including Carillion, Costain and Morgan Sindall.
Having outperformed the All Share Index by 25% in 2003, the construction sector is poised to do well again this year, according to Arbuthnot's report.

The firm said that Carillion should benefit from its diversification into services, that Morgan Sindall's growth will be driven by the success of its social housing division and that Costain has completed its recovery.

Arbuthnot was cooler on Amec. It said that the contractor's global strategy is not delivering, with margins in four of its six operations down in 2003 on the previous year.

The report said: "No doubt Amec is a good business, but it is not yet good at delivering consistent and growing profits. It will be good at profit and cash generation some day, but investors need to be cautious as regards timing."

In support services, Arbuthnot recommended investing in Atkins, Interserve and Serco.