Date: Thursday 14 Jun 2012
Although the US market remains slow, the outlook for the current year remains unchanged at WS Atkins, which broker Northland Capital Partners finds reassuring.
"Markets in the UK and US remain difficult whilst Energy, the Middle East and Asia continue to offer growth opportunities. This mirrors what others in sector have been saying over recent weeks," Northland's Andy Hanson notes.
Westhouse Securities, meanwhile, said the design and engineering consultancy's full year figures were in line with expectations, with end-period net funds of £122.6m "probably a touch better than expected."
That said, the commentary around North America is more muted than in recent statements, Westhouse's Michael Donnelly notes.
Analysts following the stock are evenly split between holds and buys, Donnelly observes.
Based on consensus earnings forecasts for the current financial year, the shares trade on a price/earnings (PE) ratio of 8.5, which Donnelly reckons is "some 5% higher than the shares' average rating over the past year, even after giving up some of the circa 25% outperformance versus the market since September."
Peel Hunt is one of those brokers advocating holding on to the shares, rather than topping up.
"With the UK and US having stabilised, improving sentiment in the Middle East and 60% of forecast revenue secured in hand, we have increased confidence in our FY2013E [fiscal 2013] forecasts. However, pension accounting changes in FY2014 could result in a sizeable £10m-15m hit to profits, increasing PE multiples and thereby constraining the share price," Suggests Peel Hunt's Christopher Bamberry.
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