(Adds CEO quotes, details throughout)
By Costas Pitas
LONDON, June 12 UK engineering consultancy WS
Atkins reported a 7 percent rise in underlying profits
on Thursday, boosted by infrastructure projects in China and the
Middle East which it said gave management confidence for the
The company, which operates in markets including Britain,
the Middle East and Asia Pacific, reported an underlying pre-tax
profit of 106.4 million pounds in the year ended March 31,
slightly ahead of analysts' expectations, which averaged 104.93
million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters data.
It also raised the full-year dividend payout by 5.5 percent
to 33.75 pence a share after increasing the final dividend to
23.25 pence from 22 pence last time, and said it expected
"positive momentum" for the business in the year ahead.
The firm said this year it was hoping to expand into South
East Asia and was eyeing rail projects in Malaysia and
architectural work in Vietnam.
Chief Executive Uwe Krueger told Reuters the firm was also
looking to expand its airport design business and was scouring
for opportunities in the Far-East.
"The major city airports in China have now been pretty much
done," Krueger said. "We are now in the second tier cities and
more and more contracts are coming, which we are purusuing."
The firm also sees more work to be won in the Middle East
energy market as the rapidly growing economies look to diversify
away from oil and gas with the construction of nuclear and solar
power infrastructure and power grid upgrades.
The firm, which is aiming to reduce its exposure to Britain
which accounts for roughly half of its group revenues, posted
overall revenue of 1.75 billion pounds for the 12 months to 31
Mar. 2014, 2.6 percent up on last year.
In Britain, where it has work on a wide range of
infrastructure projects, the firm said it was able to boost its
competitiveness and performance by using design centres based in
India to deliver work in what remains its largest market.
(Reporting By Costas Pitas; Editing by Greg Mahlich)