Alfred McAlpine shares leap on boost for housing: Disappointing results from minerals and US

SHARES in Alfred McAlpine continued their recent surge, closing 35p higher at 329p after the housebuilder and construction company announced a 43 per cent rise in underlying profits.

Yesterday's 12 per cent jump means the shares have risen more than 60 per cent since the beginning of December. They have outperformed the rest of the market by almost 50 per cent.

Operating profits of pounds 7.67m ( pounds 5.4m) in the year to October, driven by a more than doubled return from the homes division, were struck despite a pounds 1.4m loss from discontinued businesses and associates. The strong performance of UK housing more than made up for persistently tight margins in construction and disappointing results from minerals and the US operations.

Oliver Whitehead, chief executive since last May, said that the housing division would be the focus of growth while trading conditions remained difficult in the rest of the business. Completions, which grew 21 per cent to 1,521, are expected to increase to 2,500.

During the year, the average selling price of McAlpine's houses fell from pounds 81,000 to pounds 79,400, reflecting a sharp fall in the first half. The average this year is expected to be pounds 90,000 as the company reduces the number of houses aimed at first- time buyers. Despite yesterday's announcement of a price rise by Pilkington, the glass-maker, Mr Whitehead said construction costs had remained steady during the year. He gave a warning, however, that rising land prices would put pressure on margins.

Halved operating profits from construction, despite a 7 per cent increase in turnover to pounds 368m, confirmed pressures on the industry. Mr Whitehead said a doubling of the company's ongoing workload to pounds 350m reflected a decision to continue tendering despite low margins.

Minerals were affected by the low level of work in the construction industry, profits falling to pounds 2m ( pounds 3.2m). Prices stabilised during the period thanks to a reduction in excess capacity.

In the US, management changes had been made to improve the division's performance, which had been hit by an estimated pounds 500,000 loss on a single construction contract.

Pre-tax profits of pounds 1.2m ( pounds 3.4m) were hit by exceptional provisions against two disputed contracts, a pounds 500,000 loss on the disposal of a peripheral business and redundancy costs of pounds 2.3m. Earnings per share before exceptional charges were 9.6p (7.3p), allowing the dividend to be maintained at 6.5p. After exceptionals they were 0.7p (4.8p).

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower