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WSP Global withdraws 2020 guidance amid 'uncertainty,' but retains most projects


MONTREAL — WSP Global Inc. is withdrawing its 2020 guidance due to "unprecedented uncertainty" prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The engineering firm has seen several projects delayed and postponed some capital expenditures as lockdowns snarl construction activity across the globe.

However, WSP remains relatively stable amid the crisis, with most staff working remotely and clients "generally" staying committed to their projects, particularly in the public sector, which accounted for 56 per cent of revenues last year.

The virus has also triggered new government-funded assignments, including an emergency isolation room expansion at a Montreal hospital and advisory services for health care facilities in the United Kingdom.

Operations in Hong Kong and mainland China are starting to return to normal as quarantines are lifted and production centres come back to life, WSP said.

Analyst Frederic Bastien of Raymond James said the company is "well-positioned for a bounce," pointing to governments from Norway to New Zealand moving to "rush out billions of dollars in infrastructure projects" to stimulate their economies.

In Canada, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna is among the cabinet members preparing plans to channel billions in economic aid toward large-scale stimulus projects, opening opportunities for WSP and other engineering and construction companies.

First-quarter results are not expected to be "materially affected" by the pandemic, the Montreal-based company said after markets closed Wednesday.

The firm's stock value has dropped about eight per cent since Feb. 24 compared to a decline of more than 20 per cent for the S&P/TSX composite index.

This story by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:WSP)

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press