Analysts praised contractor MJ Gleeson's strict accounting policies this week, after it announced a pre-tax profit of just £0.3m for the six months to 31 December.
In the comparable period in 2001, Gleeson made a pre-tax profit of £3.3m, but has been hit by the provision of a loss of £5m on a job for materials group Tarmac.

The contractor announced earlier this month that there were "fundamental disagreements" over the interpretation of the contract for a £32m cement plant in Buxton, Derbyshire.

Teather & Greenwood analyst David Taylor said Gleeson's underlying business was strong. He said: "Gleeson has a very strict practice on contract losses. The construction side, without the one-off loss, has done as expected."

The company's turnover was up 22.6% to £285.7m, with £246.1m of this generated by the construction division.

Gleeson executive chairman Dermot Gleeson said: "But for the additional Buxton provision and, possibly, a small level of slippage in property sales, prospects for the current year are substantially unchanged since the time of the preliminary announcement in October 2002. A considerable improvement continues to be expected in 2003/4."

The directors also decided to increase the interim dividend 3.9% to 6.75p.