1. blt
    164 Posts.
    SYDNEY, Oct 27 AAP - Downer EDI Ltd's strong forward order book
    placed it in a good position for the future after a sixth
    successive year of earnings and profit increases, managing director
    Stephen Gillies said today.
    Shares in the engineering group climbed more than seven per cent
    in early September after it announced new road, rail, power and
    maintenance contracts worth more than $550 million to its forward
    order book.
    The new work, which covers the company's engineering (power),
    infrastructure and rail divisions in Australia, New Zealand and the
    Pacific region, has taken the company's forward order book to more
    than $6.3 billion.
    "The forward order book at the close of the financial year was
    approaching $6 billion, up from $4.5 billion, and today stands at
    approximately $6.3 billion, which should support growth over the
    next few years," Mr Gillies said in his speech to today's annual
    general meeting.
    "The outlook for Downer EDI is positive for 2004.
    "We expect another strong year and have targeted increases in
    gross revenue and (earnings before interest, tax, amortisation and
    depreciation (EBITA) of better than 15 per cent over last year,
    with the prospects for growth particularly encouraging in the power
    and infrastructure sectors."
    Mr Gillies said earnings per share would continue to improve
    given the company's strengthening capital base and lack of need for
    new capital to support further growth initiatives.
    "We will maintain our ongoing focus on targeting a strong
    balance sheet with improved earnings per share," he said.
    Mr Gillies said a strong platform for growth in the Asia Pacific
    region has been established with the addition of Singapore based
    CPG Corp, which brought with it 2,000 highly skilled staff.
    "The full year benefits of the acquisition of CPG will apply for
    2004 and we see continuing benefits in the years ahead as their
    design, master planning and facilities management capabilities are
    utilised across the total group," he said.
    Downer's train building business, EDI Rail, has come under fire
    recently over problems with its hi-tech Millennium rail project in
    At 1012 AEDT, Downer EDI shares were up one cent at 94 cents.
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