WorleyParsons tempers forecast

Engineering giant WorleyParsons has tempered its full year forecast as it picks up more work in the key oil and gas sector.

The company posted a flat first half profit result of $155.1 million for the six months to December 31, up two per cent from $151.9 million in the previous corresponding period.

Worley has four business areas servicing the oil and gas, power, mining and infrastructure industries.

Chief executive Andrew Wood said volatility in commodity prices had affected the market for the company's services and growth in the first half but the market improved towards the end of the period.

He said Worley's strong balance sheet provided a sound platform for future strategic acquisitions.

"We remain optimistic about our growth prospects given the current and future opportunities in the markets in which we operate," Mr Wood said.

"We believe we are structurally, financially and strategically well positioned to take advantage of these."

The company expects growth in underlying earnings for financial year 2013.

"This positive outlook is subject to sustained business confidence and commodity prices remaining reasonably strong," Mr Wood said.

Oil and gas makes up more than two thirds of Worley's business.

The company's earnings before interest and tax were $251.9 million in the six months to December, up 1.5 per cent on the previous corresponding period.

Worley Parsons shares closed 45 cents, or 1.77 per cent, higher at $25.82.

The company said the results highlighted value of its geographic diversity, including businesses in Canada, United States, China, Brazil and eastern Australia, which were the key contributors.

"Expansion in key growth markets of China and Brazil continues," Mr Wood said.

WorleyParsons declared a fully franked interim dividend of 41.5 cents per share, up from 40 cents for the same period in the previous year.

Morningstar analyst Peter Rae said the company's outlook appeared weaker than previously forecast as it changed the wording of its outlook from "good growth" to "positive".

"The key hydrocarbons (oil and gas) business seems to be doing quite well," Mr Rae said.

"The commentary seems to indicate there's a lot of work in that space."

Overall financial results were in line with expectations and activity is scheduled to pick up in other non-performing areas, he said

But the infrastructure and environment sectors were affected by weaker resources activity.

Worley shares were up 45 cents at $25.82 on Wednesday.

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