Industrial and government services group Serco was in upbeat mood yesterday after posting a ten per cent rise in underlying profits.
Serco told shareholders that the new year had started well, with its pipeline of orders at a record level.
Pretax profit before goodwill amortisation rose to £73.9 million from £67 million in 2003, on sales up 5.2 per cent to £1.637 billion.
Chief finance officer Andrew Jenner said Government demand for its services was good, and important opportunities existed in continental Europe, the Middle East and in North America.
He added that Serco expected no let-up in the UK's demand for outsourcing and public investment, irrespective of which party won May's expected General Election.
"There's a very long list of opportunities and contracts we are working on. I think the future is bright," Mr Jenner added.
"We talk about longterm double-digit growth to the market and I don't think there's anything out there to dissuade us that that's very much achievable."
Serco operates everything from Government call centres, speed cameras and prisons to rail networks such as London's Docklands Light Railway and Australia's new transcontinental "Ghan" line from Darwin to Adelaide.
Serco announced a final dividend of 1.82 pence per share, giving a total for the year of 2.63 pence - a rise of 12.4 per cent on the previous year.