Wood Plc first-half earnings drop near 21% hit by pandemic

(Reuters) - Engineering and consultancy company Wood Plc WG.L on Tuesday reported a 20.6% fall in first-half core earnings as the coronavirus-driven oil price crash dealt a major blow to its global energy clients.

The British company said it will not pay an interim dividend, and follows the withdrawal of its 2019 final dividend in April.

Energy companies across the globe have slashed their spending to save cash and ride out the coronavirus crisis, after oil prices collapsed due to weak fuel demand amid lockdowns.

Crude prices are down more than 30% for the year, though they have recovered from a historic decline in April.

The company said it has seen recent signs of stabilisation but risks of downward scope variations, deferrals and cancellation of secured work persist.

The company which has been shedding non-core assets to cut an enormous debt-pile, said its net debt, excluding leases, has reduced by about 31% to $1.22 billion by June 30.

Wood’s adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization of $305 million for the six months ended June 30 was at the upper end of company’s forecast, but was down from $384 million last year.

The company’s order book at June end fell 16.4% to $7 billion.

Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber