Kier says profit in construction division will help compensate for slowdown in the housing market.

Kier has announced that profit for the year will be well ahead of expectations despite the recent slowdown in the housing market.

The contracting, services, housebuilding and property group said that it expected housing sales to fall in the second half of the year, and said that a predicted recovery in the housing market after the election had not happened.

It said that strong sales in the first half of the financial year would increase its housing completions by 5% to 1,215 units for the year ended 30 June 2005. Kier said that it current order book represented more than our first quarter's projected sales.

The group said that profit would be boosted by its construction division which benefited from high levels of investment in the public and private sector.

The support services arm also performed strongly thanks to facilities management contracts.

Kier said the PFI business was continuing to grow, and said that a schools project in Sheffield would provide it with a £50m construction contract and subsidiary Caxton with a 25-year support services contract.