July 29, 2013 / 12:55 PM / 4 years ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Keller profit doubles as N. America construction market rebounds

(Corrects paragraph 5 to say that the company saved 3 million pounds, not 300 million pounds)

* First-half profit more than doubles to 26.8 mln stg

* N. America revenue rises 14 pct to 308 million stg

* Says order book slightly lower than a year earlier

* To cut 50 jobs in Austria, Poland and eastern Europe

July 29 (Reuters) - British engineering group Keller Group Plc’s first-half profit more than doubled as cost cuts and a recovery in the North American construction market helped widen margins.

Keller, which built the foundation for the Olympic Stadium in London, said it expected full-year results at the top end of market expectations but warned that the order book for the next 12 months was slightly below a year earlier.

Analysts on average expect a pretax profit of 63.64 million pounds on revenue of 1.39 billion pounds, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The U.S. construction sector is regaining strength after collapsing during the recession, with the housing market leading much of the recovery.

The cost cuts have helped save more than 3 million pounds ($4.6 million) so far this year, Chief Executive Justin Atkinson told Reuters.

Atkinson said the company had cut a number of jobs in the last years but did not give details. He added that Keller would cut 50 jobs in Austria, Poland and parts of eastern Europe by the end of this year as the construction market in Europe continued to be difficult.

It was not immediately clear how many employees the company had in these regions. The London-based company has about 7,500 employees globally.

“The jobs cuts in Poland, which accounts for about 3 percent of total revenue, won’t affect the company,” Liberum Capital analyst Joe Brent told Reuters.

Keller's pretax profit surged 143 percent to 26.8 million pounds ($41.19 million) in the six months ended 30 June, while operating margin improved to 4.4 percent from 2.2 percent a year earlier. (link.reuters.com/zec99t)

Revenue rose 5 percent to 644.6 million pounds. Revenue from North America - its biggest market - rose 14 percent to 308 million pounds, helped by two major transmission line projects.

Keller’s shares were down 2.4 percent at 1098 pence at 1247 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. ($1 = 0.6506 British pounds) (Reporting by Tasim Zahid in Bangalore; Editing by Akshay Lodaya, Supriya Kurane)

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