Bellwinch pays first dividend for five years

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The Independent Online
The housebuilder Bellwinch reported an increase in interim pre-tax profits to £636,000 for the six months to the end of December, up 132 per cent on the £274,000 earned in the same period last year.

The company's improved profits allow Bellwinch to distribute a dividend for the first time in five years.

This improved performance comes despite what the company acknowledges is still a very tough market for house builders.

Turnover was £13.6m, compared with £8.5m in the first half of the previous year. Of the total, £2.9m was from the sale of two developments which were at an advanced stage of completion.

Margins continue to be squeezed as selling prices have stood still for more than a year. Meanwhile raw material prices, particularly those of timber and bricks, have risen sharply during the period.

The company expects house prices to remain at their current levels for the foreseeable future.

The company was also caught out by a rise in land prices last year. Prices had risen in anticipation of a general recovery in house prices, which did not materialise.

The company says purchaser confidence has been dampened by recent rises in mortgage interest rates and fears of unemployment.

Gearing has risen to 75 per cent from 31 per cent in the year to fund the acquisition of two developments in Scotland at a cost of £4.7m.

Earnings per share were 1.4p up from 0.6p last year and the dividend is 0.2p.