UPDATE 1.30pm: Maintenance and staffing provider Programmed has lifted its first half profit by 6 per cent to $12.3 million but its shares fell because investors were hoping for better.
The result was achieved on revenue of $757.7 million, up 16 per cent on the previous corresponding period.
Programmed said while revenue increased in its property and infrastructure and workforce divisions, margins and earnings were lower because of "difficult market conditions".
The company will issue a five cent fully-franked interim dividend in line with the previous first-half dividend and payable on January 25.
Programmed managing director Chris Sutherland said the result demonstrated the strength of the company's business model which delivered services across many sectors.
Weak conditions in the retail, manufacturing, light industrial and transport sectors had been partially offset by strong growth in the offshore oil and gas sector.
"With margins under pressure in our property and infrastructure and workforce divisions, and wage inflation exceeding CPI in some sectors, we have taken steps to reshape the two divisions and reduce their cost bases, as signalled at the annual general meeting," Mr Sutherland said.
"This has resulted in savings totalling approximately $6 million annualised, which will benefit the second half, and a restructuring charge of $1.2 million before tax."
The company maintained its forecast for moderate full-year profit growth with all divisions reporting stronger earnings in the second half than in the first half.
Patersons analyst George Galanopoulos said Programmed delivered a credible bottom line result for the half year, although it fell short of his expectations.
He said declining operating margins were a concern and might result in a material downward revision of earnings in full-year 2014.Programmed shares closed off 9.5 cents, or 5.03 per cent, at $1.795.
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