Construction and engineering services group Amec has announced full-year profits at the upper-end of market expectations and raised its dividend.
Pretax profit before exceptional items and amortisation of goodwill grew by five per cent to £118.1 million, with total sales rising 2.2 per cent to to £4.81 billion.
The group raised its fullyear dividend by 4.8 per cent to 11 pence from 10.5 pence last year.
Amec has offices in Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham and Brownhills. It employs over 300 professionals in its Stratford offices and 700 staff in total across the Midlands.
Last month it announced a £280 million contract with National Grid Transco for gas services upgrades for sites including Cannock, Coventry, Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich.
The company, which has three main business segments - oil and gas, engineering and technical services and infrastructure projects - said it was confident that it would deliver further growth in all areas in 2005.
It said it expected to see an increase in volume and margins in its services business, while activity levels in oil and gas remained high with the division's operating margin increasing to 4.7 per cent from 4.3 per cent.
The year-end 2004 order book in oil and gas stood at £1.3 billion, up from £1.2 billion at the end of 2003.
Finance director Stuart Siddall said the group continued to move towards higher value margin work in oil and gas, with one-off lump sum projects being replaced with more stable long term client relationships.
Mr Siddall also said he expects to see single digit growth from contract work in Iraq in 2005 with the value of such deals set "to rise by a few more million in 2005", after a small contribution in 2004.
The company said: "Amec is working in Iraq under various contracts to restore damaged infrastructure, including power generation and water.
"Task orders under these contracts have, as expected, taken some time to come through and safety and security remain of paramount importance. Firm awards to date to the Amec Fluor joint venture amount to around US$730 million, although the final value could be much higher. In addition, Amec has received direct orders totalling around US$130 million.
"These contracts continue to carry no commercial risk as they are all fully cost reimbursable. Activity in Iraq made a small contribution in 2004, and whilst conditions remain volatile and it is difficult to predict rates of progress on specific tasks."
Shares in Amec closed last night down 7p at 307.25p.