Substantial one-off settlements in UK rail business contribute to 42% fall in pre-tax profit at contractor

Balfour Beatty, the UK’s largest contractor, today revealed that pre-tax profit in the first half dropped 42% to £39m.

The fall in profit was partly explained by a poor performance in its central division in the US, which prompted the company to make a £17m write-down.

Its UK rail engineering business also suffered, because last year it had made “substantial” one-off settlements on completed contracts and less work for Network Rail.

Turnover at Balfour Beatty rose 20% to £2.77bn and the interim dividend rose to 3.9p from 3.5p a share.

Before exceptional items, pre-tax profit rose 15% to £60m.

The company completed three acquisitions for a total of £70m in the six months to 1 July. It bought Charter in the US, Edgar Allen and UK civil engineering company Birse.

Chief executive Ian Tyler said that he was confident the group would make “good progress in 2006 and beyond.”