- Infrastructure group Hill & Smith said profits before tax fell as its return to growth in the second half helped steady performance after a disappointing first half amid a cautious UK investment environment.

For the year ended 31 December 2018, reported pre-tax profits fell 15% to £59.8m and revenue rose 9% to £637.9n.

Revenues increased 11% to £447.5m in the infrastructure division, which accounted for 70% of the total revenue.

The phasing of revenue and to a greater extent underlying operating profit was again second half weighted in 2018, principally 'reflecting improvements in the Group's UK operations after some challenges in the first half, the impact of acquisitions and a normal degree of seasonality across the Group's portfolio of businesses,' the company said.

The company also announced that Mark Pegler, Group Finance Director, would step down at the end of April 2019.

Looking ahead, the company said that it remained exposed to any impact Brexit may have on currency, and said despite the current cautious investment environment in the UK, the fundamentals of its niche infrastructure markets remained encouraging.

The final dividend was raised 31.8p a share

'Our UK and US businesses, which represent the bulk of our activities, will continue to benefit from the significant ongoing investment in replacement and new infrastructure in those countries,' said Derek Muir, Chief Executive.

'In particular, the UK Government's confirmed long-term commitment to increased investment in the roads network is very encouraging for our UK roads business, and our US businesses will benefit from the US Administration's 'Buy American' policy for federally funded infrastructure projects. '

'Despite all the current well-documented political and macro-economic uncertainty, we are confident that our leading market positions, business model and financial strength put us in a strong position to take advantage of market opportunities as they present themselves.'

'Whilst we continue to experience some short term uncertainty in the UK, we have reasonable expectations that 2019 will be a year of progress for the Group.'

At 8:06am: [LON:HILS] Hill Smith Holdings PLC share price was +21p at 1199p

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