BABCOCK International has highlighted growth in its order book to £18 billion citing new wins including a contract to build the Type 31 warship for the Royal Navy at Rosyth.

The group - which is the Ministry of Defence’s second largest contractor - reported an 18 per cent fall in underlying pre-tax profits to £202.5 million for the six months to September 30, while statutory pre-tax profits more than doubled to £152.5m from the £65.1m seen a year earlier when it was hit by exceptional costs.

Archie Bethel, Babcock chief executive, insisted the firm’s “strategy is delivering” and said it secured around £3.5bn of contracts overall.

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Mr Bethel said Babcock remained on track for the full year, although shares dropped 5%. He said the results “ show we are doing what we said we would do”.

“Our delivery in the first half is in line with our expectations, with good performance across most of the group.”

Mr Bethel is leading a revamp to boost earnings growth by up to 4% over the next five years.

He outlined the plans in June, a month after the firm revealed a 40% slump in annual profits and warned over the next year’s result.

As part of its target, it said it would look to increase total revenues from its three key markets - defence, emergency services and civil nuclear - to more than 85% from around 75% currently.

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The firm plans to increase revenue from overseas from 30% of group turnover currently to more than 40%.

In its half-year figures, the firm reported a 5% fall in underlying revenues to £2.5bn as major projects such as the aircraft carriers came to an end and as it took costs for buying planes as part of its French Fomedec contract.

With the impact of these stripped out, it said revenues edged 3.6% higher.

It said its “strong revenue growth was led by increased activity across our UK warship support business and strong orders across our technology businesses”.