In the first quarter, Ferrovial signed its first toll road in Irelandthe N4/N6, increased tolls on its Canadian toll road and, in April, it made a bid to take over UK services company Amey Including the extraordinary effect of selling 40% of Cintra in the first quarter of 2002, earnings would have fallen by 76%. Operating profit increased by 35% to 128 million euros and the operating margin improved to 11.2% (9.5% in the first quarter of 2002). Consolidated sales totaled 1,140 million euros, a 13.3% increase, with progress in all areas: construction (+1.7%), infrastructure (+15.4%), real estate development (57.9%) and services (+42.4%). The backlog amounts to 6,002 million euros in construction, 923 million euros in real estate and 870 million euros in services. Gross investments totaled 46 million euros in the period Ferrovial increased net profit by 17.9% in the first quarter of 2003, to 60.6 million euros. Including the extraordinary effect of selling 40% of Cintra (Ferrovial´s toll road subsidiary) in the first quarter of 2002 would have led to a 76% decline. Most business areas made major progress in the first three months of 2003, margins performed well and the main operating figures (backlogs and toll road traffic) improved, guaranteeing business activity in the coming months. Operating profit rose by 34.6% to 128 million euros and the operating margin rose to 11.2%, up from 9.5% in the first quarter of 2002. Non-construction activities now account for 77% of total operating profit. Net revenues totaled 1,139.3 million euros in the first quarter of 2003, i.e. 13.3% more than in the same period of 2002. All business lines improved considerably: construction revenues increased by 1.7% and the high revenues on the Ausol (Malaga-Estepona-Guadiaro) and Autema (Manresa-Terrasa) toll roads enabled the infrastructure area to grow by 15.4%. The large number of finished home sales and the positive trend in property brokerage boosted real estate revenues by 57.9%, while services revenues rose 42.4%. Through March, foreign sales totaled 231 million euros and represented 20% of the group total; the main contributions were from Portugal, Poland, Canada and Chile. Gross investments amounted to 46.3 million euros, mainly allocated to infrastructure and the ONO capital increase, which took place in the first quarter. At the end of March 2003, Ferrovial had a net cash position of 235 million euros. Construction and infrastructure: growth drivers The construction area increased sales by 1.7% through March, to 792.1 million euros. Positive performance in the Spanish market (up 8%) was tarnished by the negative exchange rate effect due to the euro´s appreciation. At 31 March, the construction backlog totaled 6,002 million euros and had declined by 3% due to exchange rate movements. Excluding this effect, the backlogwhich represents 23 months´ activitywould have increased by 1.4%. The infrastructure division increased sales by 15.4% to 107.4 million euros due to considerable contributions from the Spanish toll roads Ausol (Malaga-Estepona-Guadiaro), which increased revenues by 46%, and Autema (Manresa-Terrasa), where revenues rose 12%. In March 2003, Ferrovial signed the concession contract for the N4/N6 Kinnegad-Kilcock Motorway in Ireland. It is the first toll road in Ireland to be privately financed and managed; the concession period is 30 years and the road represents a total investment of 400 million euros. With 35 km of new construction, the road links Dublin with the north-west. Construction will commence in the next few months and the road is scheduled to open in 2006. The 407 Express Toll Route (ETR) in Canadathe world´s first all-electronic toll road with fully-deregulated tollsapplied its first unrestricted toll increase in February (+13% at peak hours and +5% off-peak). Traffic responded well to the move, rising 3% in the quarter. Revenues increased by 9% in local currency terms but fell 7% in euros due to the appreciation by Europe´s single currency. At the airport division, passenger traffic through Bristol airport increased by 29% to 3.4 million. Major progress in real estate and services The real estate division also expanded considerably, with revenues rising 57.9% to 181.1 million euros due to the large number of homes delivered to buyers (682, up from 465 in the first quarter of 2002) and the positive trend in the brokerage business (conducted through Don Piso). The backlog stood at 923 million euros (+12%) and assures over 18 months of sales; pre-sales rose 10% to 161 million euros. The services business increased revenues by a sizeable 42.4% to 91.3 million euros, and the backlog reached 870 million euros, 6.6% higher than in March 2002. This business area saw the operating margin increased to 4.6%, from 2.8% in March 2002, as the acquisitions of recent years started to produce results. In April 2003, Ferrovial made a tender offer to control Amey, one of the UK´s leading services companies. If the bid is successful, revenues in the services area will increase five-fold to represent 25% of the Group´s total revenues and the backlog will also multiply by five. As for telecommunications, Ferrovial maintains its presence in the cable business through its 10% stake in ONO.