Services group's healthy financial results are marred by a £7.3m profit fall at Metronet Enterprise.

WS Atkins has increased profit by 16% despite a £7.3m fall in profit at its tube joint venture Metronet.

The services group increased profit before tax to £72.4m for the year ended 31 March 2006 and increased revenue 10% to £1.411bn.

Profit at Metronet Enterprises fell to £4.6m during the period. Chairman Ed Wallis and chief executive Keith Clark said: "The Metronet Enterprise continues to present challenges and this has impacted the Group's overall profitability."

Metronet Enterprise comprises Atkins' stake in the Metronet tube maintenance firm and Trans4m joint ventures.

Elsewhere Atkins reported that the rail business had recovered in the second half of the year and that significant growth had been achieved in design and engineering solutions, Middle East and China and management and project services. These grew 17%, 53% and 13%.

Atkins said that it had a strong order book and that work in hand represented 62% of budgeted revenue for 2006/7.

In a joint statement Clark and Wallis said: "The outlook for the group remains positive and demand for our services is strong in all our markets. We are confident that the continued focus on people and our core skills will enable the group to achieve further profitable growth."

The total dividend for the year increased 33% to 16p and shares rose 8% this morning to 833p.