David Stewart, Leighton CEO.

David Stewart, Leighton CEO.

Australian contractor Leighton reported an AU$ 409 million (US$ 425 million) loss for the 2011 financial year, brought on by project overruns and poor returns from its Middle East business.

Leighton - a subsidiary of Germany-based Hochtief - said the loss was lower than the deficit of AU$ 427 million (US$ 450 million) forecast in April. Group revenues grew +4% year-on-year to AU$ 19 billion (US$ 20 billion).

Leighton CEO David Stewart said the result was "extremely disappointing", but highlighted the company's strong order backlog. Leighton's work in hand at 30 June was AU$ 46 billion (US$ 48 billion), up +11% year-on-year. The company said 69% of the work in hand came from Australia and 31% was from foreign markets.

"Leighton's underlying results across the core contracting business were solid during the year with good performances from markets such as Asia, telecommunications, and oil and gas related construction," Mr Stewart said, adding that the company is forecasting net profit of between AU$ 600 million (US$ 624 million) and AU$ 650 million (US$ 676 million) for the 12 months to 30 June, 2012.

Mr Stewart said the Australian non-residential construction market is forecast to rise by +5% per year over the next four years, driven by investment in energy, transport infrastructure and utilities. In international markets, he highlighted strong growth forecasts for Asia, while high oil prices are expected to underpin public investment in infrastructure in the Middle East.

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