Housebuilder Barratt Returns To Profit

Posted on: 10 February 2017

The housebuilder said it is on track to soon sell around 15,000 homes a year, as it reported it completed sales of 12,637 units in the year to the end of June, up from 11,078 a year earlier.

Chief executive Mark Clare said: “While we are not suggesting we think the market’s going to go a lot better, we think the stability in the market will continue.”

The prediction of higher volumes came as the company reported its average selling prices increased from £178,300 to £180,500 as it moved, like the rest of the sector, away from flats to larger, family homes.

Profit margins improved to 8.2pc from 6.6pc a year earlier, as Barratt sold more homes built on cheaper land bought after the housing crash, which signals higher margins.

That helped pre-tax profits to £100m, against a loss of £11.5m a year earlier. After one-off items were stripped out, profits were £110.7m, up by 159pc from £42.7m

Barratt, the largest housebuilder in terms of sales volumes, did not announce a dividend, which some had expected, but said it plans to do so for the first time in five years in 2013. Its net debt stood at £167.7m at the end of June, down by roughly half.

As well as selling more homes built on cheaper land, housebuilders have seen some boost from Government efforts to stimulate the economy through backing the sector, from buying schemes and moves to encourage banks to lend. However, mortgage lending remains the biggest constraint on housing sector, Barratt said.

The shares, which had risen about 20pc in a month, dropped as some were disappointed by the lack of a dividend and others banked gains.

“The shares are up about 85pc since the start of the year - and have performed very well over the past couple of months, too - so I think there’s a bit of profit taking going on,” said Panmure Gordon analyst Rachael Applegate.

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