May 16, 2019 / 6:52 AM / 3 days ago

UPDATE 1-Keller's first-half results take hit from more costs

(Adds details on outlook, context on APAC business, net debt)

May 16 (Reuters) - Ground engineering contractor Keller Group Plc said on Thursday first-half results for 2019 will be materially lower than a year ago, hit by additional costs to recover from bad weather in North America.

The company left its full-year expectations unchanged, noting that the shortfall is expected to be recovered in the second half.

“Overall trading performance in the first four months of 2019 has been lower than anticipated but is on an improving trend,” said Keller, which provides systems and services for monitoring the safety of buildings.

“We continue to expect a much stronger second half, and for full year revenue to be broadly flat on 2018, with an improvement in margin driving a recovery in profit,” the company said.

Keller, which has been cutting down costs and exposure to unprofitable markets, has been reviewing its Asia Pacific (APAC) business since October after conditions in Southeast Asian markets deteriorated.

The company said the APAC division would return to profitability in the second half of the year.

Keller’s order book was slightly lower at 1 billion pounds due to restructuring, but it said that it grew in its North America and EMEA markets.

Net debt, which stood at 286 million pounds at the end of 2018, has risen slightly since year end, “albeit less than expected,” the company said.

The company also provides ground improvement equipment and cable systems to the construction industry.

Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr

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