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WSP second-quarter profit increases 41 per cent to $24.3 million

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MONTREAL - Engineering consultant WSP Global Inc. says its net earnings attributable to shareholders soared 41 per cent to $24.3 million in the second quarter as net revenues surged to $513.1 million.

The Montreal-based company, formerly called Genivar, says its earned 40 cents per share for the period ended June 28, one cent below analyst forecasts but up from 33 cents per share a year earlier.

Excluding non-operating expenses, it earned $26.6 million or 43 cents per share.

WSP (TSX:WSP) says organic growth was 5.3 per cent, helped by a 3.3 percentage point boost from foreign exchange

The company's order backlog increased 6.3 per cent or $109 million to reach $1.8 billion, representing more than nine months of revenues.

Chief executive Pierre Shoiry says he is optimistic about the trajectory for the business, including additional expansion opportunities.

The Canadian operations continued to struggle with organic sales — excluding the acquisition of Alberta-based Focus — decreasing 11 per cent on continued weakness in eastern Canada, especially in mining and manufacturing. Focus grew 25 per cent from strong growth in Alberta.

Organic sales in northern Europe were flat while sales in the United States grew 10.3 per cent, Britain (13.2 per cent) and the rest of the world (20.5 per cent) led by the Middle East, Asia and Colombia.

WSP said it sees encouraging signs in Quebec during the result of the year, while the outlook in the U.S. is positive.

The company has said industry consolidation could pave the way for it to more than double its workforce to 45,000 and become one of the world's top three engineering consultancy firms by 2020.

It made a huge leap in the global rankings in 2012 with the US$438 million purchase of the larger U.K. engineering firm WSP. As of 2013, it was the world's 17th largest firm providing engineering services, but no construction work.

A published report says it is bidding for American firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, which would double its size. The company refused to provide any comment during the conference call.

On the Toronto Stock Exchange, WSP's shares closed down 17 cents to $35.52 in Wednesday trading.

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