Figures posted by Costain for 2004 have outstripped expectations although shareholders will have to wait until next year for a dividend.

Pre-tax profit rose 21%, from £16.1m to £19.5m, outperforming most predictions of about £18.3m. Turnover increased from £650.2m to £702.9m, a rise of 8%.

Costain’s building division was in the black for the first time in a decade.

The firm was thought to be planning a dividend for this year, but it must restructure its balance sheet before it can do so.

An extraordinary general meeting will be held alongside the annual general meeting in May to clear these changes and the company hopes to pay out the dividend in its results next year.

The chairman of Costain, David Jeffries, said the results for 2004 were “outstanding”.

He said: “We have made a strong start to 2005 with a forward order book standing at some £1.1bn.”