- Keller Group said it expected first-half results will be 'materially' lower than last year's, as trading in the first four months of the year fell short of expectations despite stable market conditions.

'Overall trading performance in the first four months of 2019 has been lower than anticipated but is on an improving trend,' Keller group said.'

'This, together with the final completion of our Caspian project in the first half of last year, means that our results for the first half of 2019 will be materially lower compared to the first half of 2018,' the company said.

Its order book remained around £1bn, slightly lower than at the same point last year reflecting the previously announced restructuring in Asia Pacific. 

The order book grew in each of North America and EMEA.

In North America, the adverse steel cost impact in Suncoast experienced in 2018 was now reversing as anticipated and margins had returned to more normal levels, the company said.

But elsewhere in North America, performance in the first four months had 'been weaker than anticipated, partly due to mix and partly due to additional costs to recover from the adverse weather experienced in January, but this shortfall is expected to be recovered in the second half,' the company added.

In EMEA, its European businesses were collectively performing in line with its expectations, with a 'particularly strong performance from South East Europe.'

While in APAC, its expectation of a return to profitability in the second half remained on track

'Net debt has risen slightly since year end, albeit less than expected, and debt leverage is expected to increase as anticipated to over 2.0x at the half year, Keller Group said.

'However, the expected year-on-year profit improvement together with a strong focus on organic cash generation, means that we expect debt leverage to reduce significantly and to be within the group's 1.0x to 1.5x target range by the year end.'

At 9:33am: [LON:KLR] Keller Group PLC share price was -2.5p at 704.5p

Story provided by