WHILE WS Atkins' balance sheet and accounting policies may positively sparkle compared with peers such as Amey, the company has been caught up in the overdue derating of the support services sector. Its shares have halved since March, and still remain out of vogue.
The company's skills are mainly in white-collar areas such as project management, design and engineering consultancy for companies and the public sector.
Full-year results out yesterday from the group may have bolstered its reputation for prudent accounting - no bad thing in these markets - but they still managed to disappoint. Happily for Atkins, it already booked the costs of bidding for new contracts through its profit and loss account, rather than deciding to call it investment and writing it off over years. So there were no major surprises from the implementation of a new accounting standard telling companies how to account for the Government's complicated Private Finance Initiative projects and the like. …