LONDON (Reuters) - Haulier Wincanton (WIN.L) posted a 16 percent fall in full-year profit, hit by lower client activity and the recession, but predicted a return to growth in 2011 as it benefits from the economic recovery.
The company, which transports goods such as food, documents and materials for recycling around the UK and mainland Europe, on Thursday reported an underlying pretax profit of 34.7 million pounds on revenues 7.6 percent lower at 2.18 billion for the year to the end-March.
Wincanton was expected to post an average pretax profit of 35.7 million pounds for the year, down from 41.3 million last year, according to a Thomson Reuters poll of five analysts.
"We remain cautious about the economic outlook but are nonetheless targeting an improvement in underlying performance next year and a return to growth," Chief Executive Graeme McFaull said in a statement.
"Through next year and into the medium term, we expect Wincanton's portfolio of activities in the UK & Ireland to benefit strongly from economic recovery."
The company, whose biggest clients include drug-maker GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L) and retailer Tesco Plc TSC.L, held the final dividend at 10.08 pence and said a restructuring of its German unit would enable its business in mainland Europe to grow in the coming year.
Shares in the company, which have risen 13 percent in the last three months, closed at 225 pence on Wednesday, valuing the business at around 260 million pounds.
Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by Paul Sandle