Bellway bullish on growth in home sales

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The Independent Online
ALAN ROBSON, finance director of the Tyneside housebuilder Bellway, said yesterday he was 'very encouraged' by the growth in house sales 'everywhere' as he revealed a 28 per cent leap in pre-tax profit, writes Rupert Bruce.

The company, which sells relatively cheap housing virtually nationwide, announced pre-tax profits of pounds 16.7m for the year to 31 July compared with pounds 13m in 1991-92.

It sold 2,299 houses in the year, most of them in the North, up from 1,841 the year before. But the average selling price dropped from pounds 68,000 to pounds 61,000.

'The average price fell through a change in the mix of houses to more affordable houses and because the selling prices went down slightly - probably about 3 per cent,' Mr Robson said.

Turnover rose to pounds 147m from pounds 130m. Earnings per share were 21.3p after 17.3p. Operating margins climbed from 8.3 to 9.9 per cent.

The final dividend is 8p compared with 7.5p. This is in accordance with the pledge of Kenneth Bell, the chairman, that the dividend would increase 'at least in line with inflation'. The total is 12p compared with 11.5p.

Bellway had 8,500 plots with planning permission at the year- end. It now has 10,000 and pounds 33m cash.

The nominal value of the 25p ordinary shares is being split into 12.5p ordinary shares to double the number in issue and make them more marketable.

The shares were down 2p at 455p but have risen from 240p in the past year.

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