August 29, 2018 / 4:29 PM / a year ago

France's Eiffage beats forecasts with half-year profit, upbeat on 2018

(Reuters) - French construction and concessions company Eiffage (FOUG.PA), reported on Wednesday half-year profits that beat analyst forecasts, helped by contracts for the Grand Paris Express and a rise in revenues from its motorway business.

France’s third-largest construction and concessions company behind Vinci (SGEF.PA) and Bouygues (BOUY.PA) kept its forecasts for higher revenues and profits in 2018.

Eiffage’s operating profit for the period ending in June rose 12.1 percent to 786 million euros (707.11 million pounds), while sales came in at 7.65 billion euros, an increase of 9.4 percent year-on-year.

“We have revenues up by 9.4 percent, higher than what we could anticipate six months ago, in particular with regard to organic growth which is up 6.4 percent,” Chairman and Chief Executive Benoit de Ruffray said in a presentation to analysts.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast first-half operating income of 783 million euros on revenues of 7.37 billion euros.

Eiffage’s order book at the end of June was up 22 percent at 14.4 billion euros, as order intake was buoyed by the Grand Paris Express contracts, momentum in its European subsidiaries and higher motorway revenues, the company said.

In July, Eiffage’s motorway unit APRR reported a 6.8 percent rise in its revenue excluding the construction business to 1.23 billion euros. Traffic for light vehicles and trucks rose 4.3 and 6.3 percent, respectively.

Rising fuel prices were not expected to undermine traffic trends, said Philippe Nourry, president of French motorway concessions at Eiffage.

Acquisitions made in the period also made a contribution to the order book, the company said in a statement.

Eiffage’s comments echoed its competitors like Vinci which last month remained upbeat about 2018, reporting an increase in its first-half profit. Another rival, Saint Gobain (SGOB.PA), said the second half should mark a stronger performance.

Bouygues is scheduled to report results on Thursday.

Eiffage’s forecasts were not affected by French building federation FBB’s expectations for slowing growth in the country’s construction sector for 2018.

($1 = 0.8550 euros)

Reporting by Piotr Lipinski in Gdynia; Editing by Jane Merriman and Kirsten Donovan

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