Shares in construction firm Balfour Beatty (BBY) moved 4.5% higher to 240.8p as it guided for full year profit and net cash ahead of expectations.

This looks an impressive achievement given the construction backdrop in the UK, which remains a key market for the business.

The IHS Markit/Cips UK construction purchasing managers’ index came in at 45.3 in November, compared to 44.2 in October. Significantly, new orders were down sharply amid the ongoing political uncertainty.

Balfour's profit from operations for the full year is expected to be 'slightly ahead of the board's expectations', but broadly in line with prior year's £205m. The beat to expectations was driven by the disposal of infrastructure holdings. More significant is the 2019 average monthly net cash figure of £310m, ahead of the previous £280m to £300m guidance.

Under chief executive Leo Quinn, Balfour has marshalled its cash flow carefully, an important point given the ongoing balance sheet issues facing rivals Kier (KIE) and Carillion (before its eventual collapse).

The company disposed of four assets at, or above, the firm's own valuation and the full-year gain on disposal of interests in Infrastructure Investments is now expected to be around £50m, compared with £80m a year earlier.

Full-year revenue is expected to be approximately 5% higher than prior year's £7.8bn.  The year-end order book, meanwhile, is expected to be in excess of £14bn, 'significantly higher than 2018's £12.6bn,' Balfour Beatty said.



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Issue Date: 12 Dec 2019