Technical and support services firm Serco was in upbeat mood yesterday - predicting double-digit growth after posting a 22 per cent profits rise in 2005.
Serco, which last year acquired Birmingham technology firm ITNet in a deal valued at £235 million, said pretax profit increased to £77.9 million from £64 million as sales jumped 38 per cent to £2.26 billion.
Pretax profit before amortisation rose 29 per cent to £91.5 million, with its two largest acquisitions, ITNet (now Serco Solutions) and RCI adding £23.6 million.
"The new skills and capabilities they have brought to the group are already delivering benefits," it stated.
"For example, Serco Solutions was instrumental in winning the £125 million Small Business Service contract from the Department of Trade and Industry."
Serco said its forward order book was £13.4 billion at the end of 2005.
The group has 91 per cent of its planned revenue for 2006, 77 per cent for 2007 and 64 per cent for 2008.
Serco is also in the process of helping sort out Walsall's education problems.
It stated: "We work in partner-ship with two local education authorities in the UK - Walsall and Bradford.
"In January 2005 the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) declared Bradford's services to be 'satisfactory', and Walsall's to be 'highly satisfactory', significant turnarounds for what were once two of the poorest performing authorities in the country.
"While there is still a considerable amount of work to be done, both Walsall and Bradford have continued to improve at rates faster than national trends in all indicators."
However, shares in the company fell more than four per cent following the announcement.
Serco plans to pay a final dividend of 2.06 pence per share, giving a total of 2.97p, an increase of 12.9 pct.
Full-year sales rose in all divisions, although the group said that the outsourcing of UK local and central government shared services has been somewhat slower than anticipated in coming to market. ..SUPL: