Ground engineering operator the Keller Group is confident about its prospects for the current year and has predicted a strong performance in the first half to June 30.
In a trading statement ahead of its annual meeting yesterday, the group - which runs Keller Ground Engineering at Ryton, Coventry - said its order books are strong and currently represent more than four months worth of sales.
Chief executive Justin Atkinson said: "We are experiencing very favourable market conditions in the US and, overall, the board expects Keller's first half performance to be well ahead of last year's first half."
Operating cash flow in the first half is expected to be significantly better than a year earlier, mainly due to improved working capital management.
Keller said its US business was benefiting from a recent increase in activity in commercial construction and continued strength in the housing sector.
The group said its Continental European & Overseas division was recovering well from a slow first quarter, when bad weather affected operations, particularly in Germany and Austria. The benefits of cost- cutting in Germany should start to show through in the second half.
In the UK, the group said the business had traded profitably in the first half.
Keller plans to publish its first half results on August 22.
Earlier this year, The Birmingham Post reported how the group was confident of further improved performance in 2005 after its underlying profits for 2004 rose three per cent.
In the year to December 2004, its profits before tax, exceptionals and the amortisation of intangibles came in at £ 29 . 6 million from £28.7 million despite adverse currency effects.