August 30, 2011 10:33 pm

Vinci unveils strong set of results

Vinci, one of the world’s largest engineering and construction groups, has provided a rare bright spot in an increasingly pessimistic European industrial sector by unveiling a strong set of half-yearly financial results and lifting growth forecasts.

The company said net profits in the six months to June rose by 16 per cent to €814m and sales by 17 per cent to €17.3bn as most of its business divisions performed well. Vinci’s activities span from toll road, airport and parking concessions to vast construction projects, such as bridges, tunnels, roads and sports.

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The upbeat outlook from the company, which employs 180,000 people in more than 100 countries, came on the same day the European Commission reported that business and consumer confidence had fallen far more than expected in August, adding to fears that the region could return to recession.

Vinci said the economic and financial environment was “volatile”. But it believed it was more resilient because of an integrated “construction-concession” model – where it builds large infrastructure projects, such as the Stade de France sports ground in Paris, and then operates them – and its involvement in “buoyant” markets such as transport, urbanisation, energy and the environment.

The company runs half of France’s motorways and is the largest European motorway operator, and also controls large construction businesses in France and the UK.

The group said earlier this year it was targeting sales growth of more than 5 per cent and net profit growth of close to 5 per cent. However, on Tuesday it said it now expected sales to increase by 7 per cent and net profit by between 5 and 6 per cent.

In the six months to June, net earnings per shares rose to €1.48 from €1.34 in the same period last year, while the dividend was lifted from 52 cents to 55 cents.

Its order book rose 12 per cent to €30bn. In June, Vinci finalised a multi-billion euro deal with the French state to build a new railway line between the cities of Tours and Bordeaux, known as the South Europe Atlantic high-speed rail line, one of the largest confirmed infrastructure projects in Europe.

Separately on Tuesday, Bolloré Group, the logistics to media company controlled by Vincent Bolloré, said first-half net income rose by 29 per cent to €213m, boosted in particular by a gain from the sale of shares in Vallourec, a maker of seamless steel tubes.

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