LONDON (Reuters) - Builders are struggling in the face of weak economic growth and sluggish construction activity across Europe, with several announcing writedowns, restructuring plans and job cuts on Thursday.
Government spending cuts and tightening private sector budgets in Europe have held back a recovery in construction markets in the region, in contrast to the United States, which is seeing signs of improvement.
Dutch builder Heijmans
In Spain, ACS
Other builders Sacyr Vallehermoso
Weak economic conditions translated to a fall in first-half profit for British construction and property firm Kier Group
"We have had a culmination of three years of cyclical decline and the aggregation of that is now hitting even the best businesses. While it might not really impact much in the first year, now, however good you are, it's unavoidable," said Cenkos Securities analyst Kevin Cammack.
"I think we're going to see more of that," he said of the cost cutting measures that construction firms were now resorting to.
Poor construction output was a key driving factor behind Britain's recession in late 2011 and the first half of 2012, and the country slipped back into contraction in the last three months of 2012, raising fears of renewed recession.
European's construction market declined by 4.7 percent in 2012 due to deteriorating economic conditions in the euro zone and is expected to contract further by 1.5 percent in 2013, with growth only returning in 2014, said Hochtief, citing Euroconstruct data.
"The situation in the housing market remains dramatic, and this has led to writedowns on our property holdings and a reorganization at residential building," said Heijmans executive board chairman Bert van der Els in a statement.
Shares in Hochtief, which trade at a price to earnings ratio of 22 versus - sharply higher than at rivals Skanska AB
Heijmans shares were 0.2 percent higher at 7.08 euros, while shares in Kier were down 4.4 percent at 1293 pence.
(Additional reporting by Julien Toyer, Gilbert Kreijger, Matthias Inveradi and Ankur Banerjee; Editing by Will Waterman and Chizu Nomiyama)
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