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April 20, 2015, 7:54 p.m. EDT

Leighton's profits rise on wider margins

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By Rhiannon Hoyle

SYDNEY--Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI.AU) said net profit rose in the first quarter of 2015 as the company cut costs and widened margins, offsetting falling revenue as Australia's decadelong mining investment boom ends.

Leighton, Australia's biggest construction company, reported an unaudited net profit of 124.1 million Australian dollars (US$95.9 million) for the three months through March. That compared to a profit of A$106.0 million in the same period a year earlier.

The company forecast full-year profit of A$450 million-A$520 million.

Leighton said it had widened its profit margin to 3.6% compared to 2.6% a year ago, and slashed its gearing--or debt-to-equity level--to 12.1% from 38.5% at the end of March, 2014.

"We have streamlined our operating model, degeared and de-risked our balance sheet, and become more efficient and sustainable," Chief Executive Marcelino Fernández Verdes said in a regulatory filing.

Write to Rhiannon Hoyle at rhiannon.hoyle@wsj.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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