A raft of new contracts worth more than £900 million helped infrastructure group Costain notch up a record half-year order book despite tough construction markets.
The group reported a 20% hike in its order book to an all time high of £2.9 billion after winning and extending a host of contracts in recent months, including upgrading Thames Water's network, improving a major road in Lincolnshire and overhauling power lines in the south east.
But the group saw interim pre-tax profits plunge to £3.1 million from £14.7 million a year earlier as its bottom line suffered hits including £3.7 million in costs from its failed merger with road and rail maintenance firm May Gurney, as well as tough comparisons from a year earlier when figures were boosted by a one-off pension accounting transfer .
On an underlying basis, operating profits edged 3% higher to £10.7 million in the six months to June 30.
David Allvey, chairman of Costain, said it was an "encouraging start to the year".
But it suffered a blow after losing out in the race for May Gurney in April, when its recommended all-share merger was trumped by a £221 million cash-and-shares bid from rival Kier.
This came as the second deal disappointment after it walked away from plans to buy Mouchel in 2011, with its former bid target then falling into administration.
Shares rose nearly 2% and Investec Securities analyst Andrew Gibb said the half-year results showed "solid progress".
He added: "Costain continues to benefit from its strategy of focusing on repeat order clients and a growing services revenue base."
Costain, which is working on London's Crossrail underground rail tunnel, said it had over £850 million in revenues secured for 2013, with another £700 million in the bag for 2014.
The Maidenhead-based firm said it will continue to look for "targeted" acquisitions.
It recently bought an oil and gas project management firm for £9.6 million, also launching a new division to serve the offshore oil market.
Costain has more than 4,700 employees and has a history dating back nearly 150 years.