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Keller's revenues dig deep

Ground engineering specialists Keller have announced a surge in profits, up 23% to £103.2M compared to the same period last year.

The profit comes on the back of earnings increases, up 11% to £955.1M compared to 2006.

Keller's chief executive Justin Atkinson said, "This third consecutive year of excellent growth reflects not only the strength of our markets, but also the successful execution of our strategy. As a result, the size of our business has significantly increased, particularly outside of the US, creating opportunities, economies of scale and better geographic balance.

"In the first few weeks of 2008, new orders, tendering and trading have all been encouraging. At the end of January, we had a record order book, with all four regions ahead of the same time last year, giving us a good platform for the remainder of this year."

Keller plan to continue to grow through expansion and acquisition.

In 2007, Keller acquired HJ, which specialises in Continuous Flight Auger piles, in the US, and Systems Geotechnique in the UK.

They invested heavily is fast-growing sectors, such as the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Australia, which produced strong organic growth, and new markets - Brazil, Greece, Romania and Vietnam.

In 2008, Keller expects to acquire more, "taking advantage of the opportunities presented by our highly fragmented industry," according to non-executive chairman Dr Michael West.

Speaking to NCE, chief executive Justin Atkinson said that while Keller was benefiting from the current construction boom in the UK, they were more resistant to downturns because the company operates in so many markets.

"In any one year we have 8,500 projects, and many of these are the small, bread-and-butter projects that some people take for granted. While the big projects help top lines, the small projects also have good margins."

Atkinson said that Keller's UK operations now account for only 3% of its profit. "We have significant presence in Australia, the Middle East and the US," he said.

Key projects to complete in 2007 include the Chicago spire and Brisbane gateway.

Keller's shares rose 2.5% on early trading.

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