March 16, 2017 / 7:30 AM / 4 months ago

Balfour Beatty returns to annual profit

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A Balfour Beatty worker walks onto a site in London August 10, 2009.Luke MacGregor

(Reuters) - Balfour Beatty (BALF.L) on Thursday said it returned to annual profit on the back of strong growth in its U.S. construction division and an improved performance from its British business in the second half.

The company reported pretax profit from continuing operations before one-off items of 60 million pounds for the year to Dec. 31, marking a rebound from a loss of 123 million a year earlier.

Balfour has spent two years overhauling its operations after losses at its construction division in Britain led to multiple profit warnings. The company had to scrap its 2015 dividend, cancel a share buy back and reorganise pension payments. The group reinstated its dividend last summer.

"Having simplified the group, we are focussed on our core markets in the UK and US, where governments are committed to large scale expenditure on infrastructure," Chief Executive Leo Quinn said in a statement.

Balfour said on Thursday it had reached its target of achieving practical completion on 90 percent of its "challenging" contracts by the end of 2016.

Its order book from continuing operations at constant exchange rates rose 15 percent to 12.7 billion pounds.

Following the reinstatement of the dividend, the company said it recommended a final dividend of 1.8 pence per share.

Reporting by Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; editing by Jason Neely and Jane Merriman

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