November 12, 2018 / 7:42 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 2-Babcock says in healthy financial position after critical report

* Company moves to reassure investors after critical report

* Stock hit lowest level since 2011 last month

* Shares rise 2.6 pct (Adds shares, analyst comment)

By Sarah Young

LONDON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - British engineer Babcock sought to reassure investors on Monday that the company is in a healthy financial position after a critical report published last month pushed its shares to a seven-year low.

Babcock, which counts Britain’s defence ministry as one of its biggest customers, said cash generation was in line with its expectations in the six months to the end of September and it expected to reduce its debt during the year.

It promised more details with its half year results which will be published as scheduled on Nov. 21.

Shares in Babcock had fallen 9 percent since a group calling itself the Boatman Capital Research released a critical report on the company online in the middle of October.

Babcock, which has a market capitalisation of about 3 billion pounds ($3.85 billion), provides aerial emergency services, nuclear support and naval fleet management. It earns 80 percent of its revenues from governments, with over two-thirds of total sales coming from the UK.

The company’s statement included a quote from the British government saying it spent more than 1.7 billion pounds ($2.2 billion) with the company last year and adding that it monitored the health of strategic suppliers.

Babcock described the Boatman report as anonymous and untraceable, adding that it was seeking to discover its author.

“This report included many false and malicious statements which the group strongly refutes,” Babcock said.

The Boatman Capital Research website describes its role as “Guiding Investors Across Troubled Waters” and gives an email address as a contact. Boatman was not immediately available for comment.

Analysts at Liberum rate the stock a “buy” and said in a note on Monday that they believe Babcock is undervalued.

“We believe that this (the statement) will have the desired effect of calming nerves and expect a positive reaction today,” they said.

Shares traded up 2.6 percent 616 pence at 0915 GMT. ($1 = 0.7783 pounds) (Reporting by Sarah Young Editing by Kate Holton/Keith Weir)

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