Kier said underlying pre-tax profits rose by 4% to £48.8m in the six months to the end of December amid strong performance from its property and services divisions. The firm reported revenue of £2,154m, up 5% while underlying operating profit was £60m, up 5%. The property division continues to perform ahead of its 15% ROCE target while the residential division's return on capital made progressed toward its 15% target. Revenue in the construction division decreased by 7% mainly as a result of delays in the commencement of certain projects to the second half of the financial year. The services division saw revenues rise 17% underpinned by the highways business and the better than expected contribution in the first half from McNicholas, which Kier acquired in July 2017. Kier said forecast revenue in construction and services 100% secured for year to 30 June 2018 while more than 65% of revenue in construction and services was secured for year to 30 June 2019. The firm said its order book of approximately £9.5bn reflected strong pipeline conversion in regional building and highways. The firm proposed an interim dividend of 23.0p, up 2% from the prior period, while basic earnings per share was 41.0p, up 3% from 39.7p. Haydn Mursell, chief executive, said: 'The Group is performing well. Our £9.5bn Construction and Services order book, combined with our £3.5bn pipeline in the Property and Residential divisions, provides good visibility of work over the medium term.' 'The Group's performance reflects the strength of our business model and our financial and operational disciplines. Our portfolio of businesses provides balance and resilience and our approach to risk management is evident in the margin performance we have delivered over many years. We remain on course to deliver double-digit profit growth in 2018 and to achieve our Vision 2020 strategic targets.' At 8:40am: (LON:KIE) Kier Group PLC share price was -48p at 1030p
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