Managing director Paul Sellars said: "We are quite cautious at the moment. I want to be careful about what we are taking on. We are taking a prudent approach."
The policy shift came as Montpellier, which is the parent company of contractor YJL, announced post-tax profit of £3.4m for the six months to 31 March 2003, an increase of 31% on the same period last year. Turnover fell £6m to £211.5m.
However, Montpellier's preferred profit figure includes a share of profit made by "associates" and £403,000 in tax owed by the Inland Revenue. Associates are defined as firms in which Montpellier has a holding of more than 30% plus a seat on the board.
Montpellier's operating profit, excluding profit made by associates and the tax return, was £840,000, a fall of 67% from the same period last year.
The group's administrative expenses increased from £16.7m to £19.7m. Sellars blamed this on the cost of running Union Investment Management, bought by Montpellier in 2002 to provide financial advice on further acquisitions.