The West

Navitas and Leighton Holdings today add some early weight to a new reporting season expected to show subdued profit growth and nervousness about the future.

Analysts are tipping average profit growth of about 9 per cent, though that is heavily skewed by the earnings power of BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

Navitas, traditionally the first of WA's major companies to report, is expected to hand down an improved underlying profit of about $80 million.

But the impact of a $40 million pre-tax writedown announced by the education provider two weeks ago in connection with the shock loss of its biggest contract will likely reduce its bottom-line earnings to nearer to $50 million.

Leighton, now dealing with the aftermath of its takeover by Hochtief earlier this year, is forecast to return reduced interim earnings of about $270 million to $285 million.

Goldman Sachs is forecasting 7 per cent growth in Navitas' earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to $138.7 million - at the lower end of the company's guidance of $138 million to $148 million.

But the broker is looking for accelerated earnings momentum from Navitas' core university pathways division and a strong rebound in SAE following profit-crimping investments across the media technology training business in the first half.

Navitas will face some pressure in the medium term over Macquarie University's surprise decision to quit their partnership and set up its on-campus pathways program from 2016.

Navitas shares were hammered by the announcement and remain near 18-month lows.

Like other contractors, Leighton is facing revenue and margin pressure amid declining work volumes and increasing competition for tenders.

"Leighton needs to win about $2 billion of work per month to maintain its revenue," RBS Capital Markets said last week.

"We feel it could be difficult to sustain this level of revenue, given the declining volume of work available for tender," it said.

The market will be looking for updates on the sale of asset sales, notably John Holland.

The West Australian

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