Despite revenue of £48.5mln in the six months ended 31 October that were up 13% year on year, the geotechnical engineer’s profit before tax crashed 63% to £0.9mln and the dividend was cut 80% to 0.2p per share.
This was not unexpected after the weak first quarter, with trading activity hit by "weak contractor confidence and continued project delays", coming amid the uncertainty around Brexit and the political situation, with rail activity especially subdued.
“The second quarter saw a promising upturn in overall activity as key projects were mobilised in certain segments of the UK construction market,” Van Elle said.
It said current activity levels and prospects in housing and highways “remain positive”, with “modest improvement” expected to both the rail and commercial building markets as the second half progresses, even more so if the HS2 project is given the go-ahead.
Chief executive Mark Cutler said: “We have a clear strategy focused on three core markets - housing, infrastructure and regional construction - where we offer a broad range of end-to-end technical capabilities through our extensive and well-invested rig fleet.”
He said the operational performance was “stable” with previous challenges now “substantially addressed” with a simplified divisional structure.
The outlook was given for full-year result to be “within the range of market expectations”.
The shares, which fell to a record low last year after a succession of profit warnings, before rising more than 50% later in the year, fell back 8% to 50p on Wednesday morning.