March 5, 2015 / 3:43 PM / 4 years ago

SNC-Lavalin boosts dividend, but profit outlook below estimates

TORONTO (Reuters) - SNC-Lavalin Group Inc (SNC.TO) reported adjusted earnings that were little changed from a year earlier and raised its dividend, but forecast 2015 earnings below expectations, sending its shares lower.

Robert G. Card, president and chief executive officer of SNC-Lavalin, gestures as he addresses the media following their annual general meeting in Montreal, May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

Shares in the Montreal-based engineering and construction firm’s dropped 4.7 percent to C$37.70 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

SNC-Lavalin has been rocked by a years-long scandal involving allegations of fraud and bribery against former executives. Last month Canadian police brought charges against the company directly, and SNC has said it will plead not guilty.

For 2015, it forecast earnings per share between C$1.60 and C$1.90, and adjusted earnings from the engineering and construction business between C$1.30 and C$1.60 a share. Analysts, on average, had looked for earnings of C$2.95 a share for 2015, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company raised its quarterly dividend 4 percent to 25 Canadian cents a share.

SNC reported a net loss of C$255.6 million, or C$1.67 a share, for its core engineering and construction business, compared with earnings of C$31.3 million, or 21 Canadian cents a year earlier, as results were hurt by restructuring charges and other unusual items. Adjusted earnings in that segment rose to 15 Canadian cents a share, from 12 Canadian cents, boosted in part by the oil and gas segment.

Excluding a gain on the previously announced sale of electricity transmission company AltaLink and a restructuring charge, earnings from SNC-Lavalin’s smaller infrastructure concession investments business fell to 55 Canadian cents a share from 58 Canadian cents, hurt by a smaller contribution from the 407 toll highway.

Together, adjusted earnings were 70 Canadian cents a share, flat from a year earlier.

Net income rose to C$1.15 billion ($923.84 million), or C$7.51 a share, from C$92.5 million, or 61 Canadian cents, on a C$1.32 billion gain on the AltaLink deal.

Revenue rose 33 percent to C$2.8 billion, boosted by SNC’s acquisition of energy-focused engineering group Kentz Corp, which closed in August.

($1 = $1.24 Canadian)

Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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