(Updates with details on Brazil, accounting difficulties)
By Toby Sterling
AMSTERDAM, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Design and consultancy firm Arcadis beat its own fourth quarter earnings forecasts on Thursday and announced a dividend hike as it sought to appease investors following a recent profit warning.
The Dutch company’s shares have lost nearly half their value in three months after it announced a fraud probe at its Brazilian operations in December and a month later a profit warning and the disclosure of a 100 million euro writedown on an acquisition made a year earlier.
In a statement, CEO Neil McArthur said that the company remains fundamentally strong.
“Consequently, given our strong financial position and cash flow we are proposing a 5 percent increase in our dividend to 0.63 per share”, he said.
Arcadis that the company has received no further information from Brazilian authorities after an initial request for information, and is still conducting an internal review.
But it provided a full explanation of how it got the valuation wrong in its acquisitions of Hyder and Callison, due to differing revenue recognition practices. It concluded the restatement does “not deter from the forward earnings capacity of these acquisitions.”
Arcadis reported fourth-quarter earnings before interest, taxes and amortization (EBITA) was 59.8 million euros ($67 million), up 18 percent from the same period a year ago, on revenue of 873 million euros.
Analysts polled by Reuters had seen EBITA at 57 million euros on revenue of 854 million euros.
Arcadis said the company expects “continued tough conditions in emerging markets, and for our business in North America,” but noted that Europe and Australian markets remain healthy.
It gave no forecast for profit growth in 2016. ($1 = 0.8976 euros) (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Alexander Smith)