Prowting optimistic despite 4.9m pounds loss

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The Independent Online
A RISE of 30 per cent in reservations at the start of the year came too late to prevent Prowting, the house builder, reporting a pounds 4.9m pre-tax loss for the year to February.

The loss was an improvement on the previous year's pounds 17.7m loss, but that was due to a fall in provisions against housing land from pounds 22.4m to pounds 4.9m. At the operating level, profits dropped from pounds 4.7m to pounds 68,000.

The fall in profits was largely due to a drop in selling prices from pounds 103,000 to pounds 88,000, despite a small increase in the numbers sold from 273 to 290. But Terry Roydon, managing director, said he hoped to increase sales to about 700 - the levels enjoyed at the peak of the market - by the financial year 1995-96.

These expansion plans are supported by a land bank standing at 5,056 plots - more than 17 years' supply at current sales levels, although 800 of these are earmarked for a development at Swindon.

In the two months since the year- end, sales are running about 50 per cent above the previous year and Mr Roydon is optimistic this will be sustained during the rest of the year. But he does not expect a rise in prices, and therefore margins, until next year.

Debt was cut from pounds 36.5m to pounds 27.3m, or 48 per cent of net assets. The loss per share was 7.9p, down from 18.8p. A second interim dividend of 1.7p was paid in April to avoid the advance corporation tax changes, making 3.4p (5p) for the year.