Upbeat profit forecast provides boost to Henry Boot shares

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SHARES in property and construction firm Henry Boot rose yesterday, after the company forecast it would deliver a full-year pre-tax profit that would beat market estimates.

But the Sheffield-based company warned of a 14 per cent fall in revenues for the year.

It also revealed that the current property valuation is expected to be slightly below that of June 2011, reflecting a weaker market.

Data from researcher Investment Property Databank, the benchmark index for UK property, recently showed values weakened in 2011 and the outlook for 2012 was “less than ideal”.

In November, the company said some of its land sales had generated better-than-expected profits. Last year the group sold a shopping centre in Ayr for £33.8m. Henry Boot expects revenues for the year ended December 31 to be about £113m, compared with £131.9m last year.

In a pre-close trading statement, the company said: “The group’s balance sheet remains robust, with gearing at the year-end at around two per cent (compared with six per cent at the end of 2010).

“It is anticipated that we will have successfully concluded the renewal of our banking facilities for a further three years in February 2012.

“We look forward to updating shareholders in more detail at the time of our preliminary results which are scheduled to be announced on Wednesday, March 28, 2012.”

The company can trace its roots back to 1886, when farmer’s son Henry Boot started his one-man construction business. He carried out modest “jobbing work” in Sheffield and the surrounding areas. The company grew rapidly in the early 20th century.

Its projects included work to develop the Army camp in Catterick North Yorkshire, which was carried out during the First World War.

Henry Boot retained an active interest in the company until his death in 1931.