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Taylor Woodrow warns on sales: Property market 'not recovering as expected'

MORE than doubled profits at Taylor Woodrow failed to impress the City yesterday as the construction and housebuilding group warned about trading conditions in all its areas of business.

The shares, which had fallen from 181p so far this year, closed 2p lower at 135p.

Colin Parsons, chairman, said home sales were in the doldrums and contracting remained dogged by oversupply.

Group profits moved ahead from pounds 10.1m to pounds 22m in the six months to June on lower turnover of pounds 514m ( pounds 623m). Earnings per share were 3.5p (1.3p) and the interim dividend was increased by 50 per cent to 0.75p.

Construction recovered from last year's pounds 3.4m loss to a pounds 1.8m profit, although all the profit was earned overseas. In the UK, despite an increase in the order book, there was no profit and Mr Parsons warned that prospects remained difficult with too many contractors chasing too little work.

The biggest contributor to higher profits was the housing division, where profits jumped from pounds 3.9m to pounds 9m. Stripping out a land write-down in California last year, however, the underlying rise was a more modest 25 per cent.

Mr Parsons said the normal lull in summer house sales had been compounded by tax increases and interest rate worries.

Property moved ahead from pounds 6.5m to pounds 7.4m, benefiting from the strength of the central London residential market, which had encouraged the division to proceed with the second phase of a development in Kensington.