Increase in geographical spread through acqusitions helps half year profit increase 33% to £15.7m

Shares in support services group WSP rose 3% on Monday after its latest results revealed that it had surpassed growth expectations..

Shares rose to 727p when it announced a 33% hike in pre-tax profit to £15.7m for the six months to 30 June 2007.

Chris Cole
Cole: geographical spread gives WSP edge over peers

Turnover at WSP, which counts the World Trade Center in New York City as one of its projects, said that turnover in the first half increased 24% to £268m.

Chief executive Chris Cole said that its geographic spread, which it has been increasing in the last three years through acquisitions, “distinguishes WSP from our peers” and “justifies our belief in out strategy of diversification.”

In terms of WSP’s five-year business plan, which it is halway through, it has so far delivered above its turnover growth target of 15% per annum.

Cole said that all of the company’s business units were performing well. Turnover at the property division rose 20%, with little contribution from acquisitions. Work in that division includes hospitals, schools, retail, commercial, leisure and urban regeneration.

Turnover within its transport and infrastructure, and environmental and energy businesses also rose significantly, by 17% and 25% respectively.

Among its high-profile property projects is Shard at London Bridge, which will become the capital’s tallest building and where WSP is the consultant engineer.

The board recommended an interim dividend of 4p, up by a third. Recent acquisitions in Australia and South Africa are expected to contribute to WSP’s full year results.

The company now employs a total of 7352 full-time staff and had a £750m forward order book at the end of the half year, up 20%.