Seasonal factors put Crest back in the red

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CREST NICHOLSON slipped back into the red for the six months to 30 April, but the house-building and property group predicted better days ahead.

John Callcutt, chief executive, said pre-tax losses of pounds 3.9m resulted mainly from seasonal factors, and he expected the full-year results to be better.

Mr Callcutt heads a team put in to restore the recession-battered group to health after losses of almost pounds 60m in 1991.

Crest returned to profit last year, although its interim losses were pounds 4.4m before tax. The company hinted that a dividend might be restored at the end of this year if an improvement in trading conditions continued.

Stockbroking analysts predicted profits of pounds 2m- pounds 3m this year and pounds 6m in 1994.

'These interim results are actually better than anticipated because of a sudden, if patchy, recovery in the housing market this year,' Mr Callcutt said.

Apart from the housing market, Mr Callcutt said there were signs of increasing demand from tenants for commercial property.

He added that the house-building division remained the core profits generator, but he expected the strategic land-holding company to play an increasingly important part in the development of the business.

'We're putting ourselves into a position where we can make a real impact in 1994 when the recovery really starts to feed through.'

The construction side of the business, which has been curtailed dramatically, was still facing dire market conditions, Mr Callcutt said.

Crest's shares eased 3p to 69p.