Balfour Beatty Shares Bounce 7% on Fresh Buyback

Investors see a solid set of results, and vote with their feet to boost the UK-listed construction and infrastructure company's shares

Alliance News 13 March, 2024 | 9:54AM
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Balfour Beatty UK Main

Shares in construction giant Balfour Beatty jumped 8.3% to 368p in early exchanges in London on Wednesday on news of a share buyback following results for the full year 2023.

This was despite a 15% drop in pre-tax profits to £244 million from £287 million in 2022, caused in part by lower gains on investment disposals, a situation it had already alerted the market to. It was also unable to benefit from a £56 million tax credit relating to the recognition of additional UK tax losses in 2022, which won't repeat for 2023.

Nevertheless, revenue at the group was strong with a 7.4% uptick, including joint ventures and associates, to £9.60 billion from £8.93 billion in 2022. Statutory revenue, which excludes those items, was 4.8% higher at £8 billion from £7.6 billion.

Diluted earnings per share declined to 34.8p from 46.3p.

Balfour will now lift its final dividend by 14% to 8p from 7p. This means its annual dividend will be 10% higher at 11.5p from 10.5p. In addition, it will repurchase £100 million of its stock during the 2024 phase of its share buyback programme.

However, this still means total planned returns of £160 million in 2024 will be down from £208 million in 2023. Underlying operating profit from the earnings-based businesses - construction and support services - of £236 million, was slightly higher than £232 million in 2022. It now expects an upturn in underlying operating profit in 2024, with growth accelerating in 2025.

This is underpinned by a £16.5 billion order book, Balfour said, although this was lower than the £17.4 billion seen at the end of 2022. Balfour said the second half of 2023 showed a clear improvement in orders compared to the first half, as interest rates stabilised.

In 2025, Balfour expects growth to accelerate, driven by energy, transport and defence in UK and buildings in US.

"The Group's reliability and resilience has again delivered a solid performance, with increased revenue and profit from our earnings-based businesses and strong operating cash flow,"chief executive Leo Quinn said.

"This success against a challenging economic backdrop is driven by our disciplined contract risk management across a geographically and operationally diversified portfolio.

"The board remains confident in Balfour Beatty's ongoing ability to deliver sustainable cash generation for significant shareholder returns, with growth from our earnings-based businesses in 2024 underpinned by the strength of the group's order book."

At the time of writing shares in the company are currently up 7.6% to 365p.

By Jeremy Cutler, Alliance News reporter

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