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Austal chief executive Andrew Bellamy. Picture: Gerald Moscarda/The West Australian.
Austal chief executive Andrew Bellamy. Picture: Gerald Moscarda/The West Australian.

UPDATE 1.15pm: Austal has posted a 76 per cent jump in first-half profit to $9.5 million on the back of solid revenue growth and margin improvement.

Revenue was up 30.4 per cent to $507.6 million for the period.

The shipbuilder reduced its net debt by $32.8 million to $113.7 million.

Austal said its order book at the end of December stood at $2.4 billion, securing construction work through to 2018.

Chief executive Andrew Bellamy said the company's ability to produce cash and grow margins from a record amount of work in progress demonstrated the benefits of changes that had been implemented across the group.

"Thirteen vessels were under construction at our US and Australia shipyards in the half, with those ships bolstering the value of Austal's work in progress to a record amount," he said.

"Through a combination of the lessons learnt from the first-in-class vessels for each of those ship programs, the operational efficiencies we have implemented, and the management structures and systems we have put in place, we have been able to deliver revenue growth and strong cash flow from this record amount.

"Importantly, we utilised the cash generated to reduce our debt, further strengthening our balance sheet that will better position the company to deliver ongoing returns to shareholders."

Austal said it would aim to drive further margin growth across the business as it continued to deliver on its three major vessel contracts.

The company is forecasting full-year revenue of $1 billion.

Mr Bellamy said Austal would continue to reduce debt and maintain a focus on prudent cash management to support the significant amount of work in progress.

"Looking ahead, we are encouraged by the opportunities for building variant-style defence vessels, which would be designed and constructed at our Henderson shipyard," he said.

"We will also remain flexible and adaptive at our Philippines shipyard in response to sluggish demand for ferries, including targeting new markets and different types of commercial vessels."

Austal shares closed flat at 88 cents.