After selling a string of big PPP contracts last year and shorn of maintenance contracts transferred to Network Rail that generated £100 million of turnover in the first half of last year, Carillion is expanding again.
After paying £50 million for the building and maintenance company Planned Maintenance Engineering in March, it is still cash-rich with £88 million of clear cash in the bank, not allowing for finance leases of £217 million.
In the first half of this year Carillion achieved an underlying profit of £20.1 million, up from the equivalent of £19.9 million a year earlier. Despite the absence of Network Rail work, turnover fell by only £ 13.1 million to £938.8 million.
The value of the order book and framework contracts increased by £400 million during the half- year to £5.4 billion.
On top of that, there is a pipeline of "probable" new orders valued at £2.7 billion.
These include two big Ministry of Defence maintenance contracts for which Carillion has been formally named as the preferred bidder.
One covers the MoD's stock of 43,000 service people's homes and the other its offices and other non- housing properties.
Carillion is close to agreeing the final financial details for half of each. Both are for seven years with the possibility of that being extended to ten years.
Carillion has just agreed a three-year extension of its £100 million-a-year contract to look after BT's buildings in a joint venture with Balfour Beatty.
Shareholders get a 2.8p interim dividend, an increase of 4.7p on last year's pay-out, which included 1p described at the time as an "additional" dividend paid to pass on to shareholders proceeds from the PPP equity sales.
This was consolidated at the year-end as the basis for future dividend policy. The shares edged 2p higher to 274p.
"With the overall outlook for trading in the second half expected to remain positive, the board is confident that Carillion is on course to make further good progress in 2005," said Philip Rogerson, chairman.
Chris Girling, Carillion's finance director, said nothing yesterday about distributing any of the remaining £88 million cash to shareholders.
Some £50 million of it is earmarked as working capital and Carillion has big investment plans for the second half of this year and early 2006.
The balance sheet, Carillion's first under the new International Financial Reporting Standards, shows pension liabilities of £103.5 million.
Mr Girling said the actuarial deficit was more like £60 million.
It closed the scheme to new members and increased contributions for both employees and the company some time ago.
But Mr Girling expects more money will be needed to take account of the extent to which people are living longer.
Mr Girling insisted that Carillion is not interested in undertaking big fixed-price civil engineering projects for the 2012 London Olympics.
"But if Government procurement makes it cost-plus, it might be another matter," he added.
"Our main interest is in infrastructure, the Olympic village and so on."