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WSP Group optimistic that infrastructure projects will improve Canadian results

WSP Group optimistic that infrastructure projects will improve Canadian results

MONTREAL — WSP Global anticipates the roll out of federal infrastructure spending will help Canada overcome ongoing challenges in the oilpatch over the next few years, the engineering consultant’s CEO said May 10.

"I’m optimistic about the long-term outlook of Canada but we just need to be patient," Alexandre L’Heureux said following the company’s annual meeting, where it unveiled a new global logo.

Montreal-based WSP Global has shed hundreds of Canadian jobs during three years of slowdown, caused in large part to economic weakness in Western Canada’s oil and gas sector.

Employment has increased over the past year in Quebec and Ontario, with more jobs to be added as the economy continues to recover.

The Liberals plan to spend $81.2 billion on their infrastructure program over the next 11 years, including $35 billion earmarked for the infrastructure bank.

WSP Global recently secured a contract for a Metro Line transit expansion project in Edmonton, its first from federal infrastructure spending.

"We do feel that perhaps some momentum will build in the country and we’ll see again a pickup in the activity in infrastructure in the coming years," L’Heureux later said.

WSP Global, which along with cross-town rival SNC-Lavalin are two of the world’s largest engineering firms, said it is awaiting word on other large contracts, including light rail train projects in Montreal and Ottawa and the Roberts Bank port terminal expansion in Vancouver.

L’Heureux said this year will be busy for bidding for future work.

The company expects to complete more acquisitions in the coming year that will allow it to achieve its strategic plan to reach 45,000 global employees and $6 billion in annual net revenues by the end of next year. It currently has 36,000 employees and $4.9 billion in revenues.

The company got off to a strong start to the year by reporting a big boost to profits and revenues.

It earned $47.6 million or 47 cents per share for the period ended April 1, up from $27.6 million or 28 cents per share a year earlier.

Adjusted net income was $49.8 million or 49 cents per share, up from $33.1 million or 33 cents per share a year ago.

Net revenues were $1.28 billion, up 10 per cent, but only four per cent excluding the extra number of working days in the quarter.

L’Heureux said the company has a strong position in Britain that will allow it to weather the impact from Brexit. Business in the private commercial sector had slowed a couple of months ago, but there is a bit more optimism in the past four to six weeks.

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