WBHO profits up, sees solid 2009

Construction firm WBHO posted a 78,2% jump in first-half headline earnings per share (EPS) on Monday, and said full-year results would be solid.

Headline EPS, the main profit gauge in South Africa, rose to 706,5 cents in the six months to end December from 396,5 cents the same time a year ago, below WBHO’s own forecast of an 80% to 100% rise.

WBHO, which is involved in the construction of some of the stadiums for the 2010 Soccer World Cup, said revenue grew by 35,3% to R6,8-billion.

South African construction firms have reaped profits in recent years thanks to a building boom before the 2010 Soccer World Cup, but the slowdown in the global economy has raised concerns about future project flows.

The firm said its order book grew to R16,7-billion from R15,5-billion in the previous corresponding period.

WBHO’s rival, Group Five, also posted strong half-year results last week, boosted by South Africa’s infrastructure spending, but project cancellations in the Middle East undescored challenges in construction markets.

WBHO, which also operates in several other African states and in Australia, is banking on South Africa’s mega infrastructure spending package over the next three years.

Earlier this month, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said government will lift infrastructure spending to R787-billion, including adjustments for inflation, over the next three years.

WBHO declared an interim dividend of 100 cents, up from 50 cents in the past year.—Reuters

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