For a company that began this decade losing most of its stock-market value and its chief executive, the U.K.’s W.S. Atkins plc seems to have learned the trick of keeping afloat in hard times. From being the lame duck of institutional investors, Europe’s largest design firm has become their darling, following recent news of better-than-expected financial performance in the face of global gloom. David Brockton, equities analyst with Arbuthnot Securities, London, says, “Atkins remains the best-placed (U.K.) consultant to withstand pressure in its markets and benefit when any demand improvement occurs.”
Group sales in the recessionary year to this March rose 13%, to about $2.4 billion, generating a 19% operating profit hike of $165 million. Cash balances are good, assesses Brockton, who is not alone in forecasting increasing share valuations in the investor-owned design firm.