AWG expects improvement led by water business
By Andrew Taylor, Utilities Correspondent
March 31 2004

AWG, owner of Anglian Water, expects its profits before exceptional items for the 12 months to the end of March to "show an improvement" on the preceding year.

The company said yesterday that the profits increase would be led by the water business, which had a strong performance in the first half of last year owing to the hot, dry summer, AWG said.

Trading was "in line with expectations in the second half and the full-year results are therefore expected to show an improvement over 2002-03", it said.

The company's share price rose 3p to 547p yesterday.

Merrill Lynch, the stockbroker, praised the recent appointment of Jonson Cox, AWG's new chief executive, who, it said, was already helping to improve relations with the Office of Water Services (Ofwat), the UK water industry regulator.

Mr Cox, 47, ran Yorkshire Water before becoming chief operating officer of Railtrack in 2000.

He was appointed AWG chief executive last November. Mr Cox, who is expected to concentrate on developing Anglian's core water business, has yet to decide what to do with group's construction and other services interests.

The group's trading statement issued yesterday forecast improvement in its infrastructure management business but its government services, utility services and construction services had "experienced margin pressure throughout the year".

Total exceptional charges for the year were expected to be about 130m.

* United Utilities expects results for the year to the end of March to be in line with its expectations. John Roberts, chief executive, said United's water business made good progress.