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Business

Bilfinger Berger Brushes Off Construction Gloom

The German construction market may be weak right now, but you wouldn't know it from the strong full-year 2001 results announced by M-Dax company Bilfinger Berger.

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Building skyward

Although it's operating in a weak market environment right now, German construction group Bilfinger Berger on Thursday gave an upbeat assessment of its prospects for the current year.

The group said the sale of shares in Dresdner Bank AG would impact positively on its earnings, but even without this special effect, it expected to see some improvement in net earnings. The sale of the Dresdner shares, carried out in January 2002, would generate a tax-free profit of 161 million euros, Bilfinger Berger said.

The company on Thursday announced operating earnings of 52 million euros for full-year 200, up 21 percent from 43 million euros in 2000 and ahead of analysts' forecasts. Construction output in 2001 totalled 4.6 billion euros, up 4 percent on the year. Incoming orders rose 2 percent to almost 4.7 billion euros.

Foreign output rose by a relatively modest 1 percent, while domestic output rose 6 percent, owing largely to a change in the way the company breaks down its business.

In its new growth Development and Operation segment – the development and operation of amenities such as roads or hospitals – output rose 41 percent to 288 million euros.

Despite the difficult construction market in Germany, Bilfinger Berger booked a profit on its domestic activities.

Analysts said the figures were highly satisfactory. Erhard Schmidt at Helaba Trust said it was notable that the company had managed to achieve a clear increase in last-quarter orders after a decline in the third quarter.

Bilfinger shares rose 2.59 percent to close at 23.75 euros.

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