Wilson Bowden builds pounds 41m profits

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The Independent Online
A bullish outlook on prospects pushed shares in the Wilson Bowden housebuilding company to within a sighting shot of the all-time high of 570p that was hit in early 1994.

Shares in the company, which floated on the stock market 10 years ago, climbed 20p to 542.5p after David Wilson, chairman and chief executive, announced record profits and said: "The whole business is on a roll and reservations are some 30 per cent up on the same period last year. There may be a couple of slow weeks immediately before and after the election, but overall I expect a steady improvement."

The company anticipates that its house completions this year could be 15 per cent higher than the 2,500 achieved last year. Mr Wilson said the homes market was particularly strong in the south of England. He said: "There is also some evidence to suggest that the `ripple effect' is starting to show through in the north of the country."

Last year's 39 per cent profits leap to pounds 41m before tax was helped by the acquisition of Trencherwood. It contributed operating profits of pounds 4.1m in the nine months since it was bought for pounds 10.1m. Group results were higher than most analysts' expectations, which had been pitched at around pounds 38m.

"The Trencherwood deal is proving to be a big success," Mr Wilson said.

Group profit margins rose to 13.4 per cent in the second half of the year. Earnings per share climbed by 38.4 per cent to 29.2p and the total dividend is being raised from 10.05p to 11p.