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Positive 2012 start for WSP

Design engineering consultancy WSP has said it is “confident” in its 2012 performance after several years of restructuring.

Posting an interim statement this morning for the period from 1 January to today, the firm said the group is trading in line with expectations, “in a generally stable business environment with signs of improving momentum in certain markets”.

But it said: “The UK public and private sectors remain subdued with the exception of a more buoyant London market but, following last year’s restructuring, we are aligned to these markets and well positioned to benefit as conditions improve.”

At its annual results in February, WSP said its UK division saw a 1.6 per cent margin, down from 4.4 per cent last time, with adjusted profit of £3.3m – down from £9.8m – on £209.2m of sales.

The group has seen extensive restructuring in the last three years, including £15m of restructuring costs in 2011. WSP reported 400 job cuts and a 50 per cent drop in pre tax profit at is half-year last July.

At year-end, the company said net debt was up from £59m to £68.3m. This morning, WSP said its net debt is “in line with expectations” and having successfully refinanced in December 2011 with a new 4-year facility, the group is “securely financed”.

It added: “In conclusion, the board remains confident of the group’s performance and prospects.”

WSP said its Swedish and Norway businesses continue to perform strongly, while other European operations started the year satisfactorily. 

In the US, it said there are encouraging early signs of improving market conditions for its private sector businesses, while its public sector infrastructure business has had a much better start to the year than in 2011, when it was affected by delayed projects and adverse weather conditions.

It added that the environment and energy business has had a typically quiet start to the year, and although they remain cautious, they “are seeing positive momentum as we realign the business to its stronger markets”.