Consultant’s preliminary results also show revenue down almost 7%

Pre-tax profit at UK design and engineering consultant WS Atkins slipped 5.9% last year, down to £96.6m from £102.7m the previous year.

The group’s preliminary results for the year to 31 March 2010, announced today, also show a 6.7% fall in revenue from £1,487.2m to £1,387.9m, excluding joint ventures.

Operating profit for the year rose 9.6%, but restructuring costs of £16m had to be taken into account.

However, there was a profit from discontinued operations of £25m relating to the release of a provision following the expiry of a letter of credit in respect of the Metronet enterprise.

Atkins reduced its staff during the year by 13% to 15,601 at the year-end.

The group’s cash flow remained strong, with a 0.8% rise to £126.5m, while net funds increased 29.2% to £302.5m.

Allan Cook and Keith Clarke, the group’s chairman and chief executive, said: “We are pleased to report that Atkins had another good year. These strong results, delivered in a tough economic environment, demonstrate the resilience of our strategy.

“Our diversified exposure to end markets gives us added resilience to market fluctuations. However, the uncertainty of the impact of UK public spending cuts continues and we are prepared for a period of tighter government spending.

“The group has good levels of work in hand and a strong balance sheet and we are well positioned for when growth returns.”

Normalised diluted earnings per share now stands fell 5.5% to 77.8p, but the recommended final dividend for the year rose 5.8% to 18.25p.