Another day, another bit of good news coming out of the housebuilding sector, after Persimmon reported a 34 per cent jump in pre-tax profits.
Underlying pre-tax profits rose to £637.8m in the year to the end of December, up 34 per cent on last year's £475m, while full-year revenues rose 13 per cent to £2.9bn.
The company said legal completions jumped eight per cent to 14,572, while average selling prices increased 4.5 per cent to £199,127.
Meanwhile, underlying basic earnings per share increased 39 per cent to 173p - and it said it will pay a dividend of 110p per share.
Shares rose four per cent to 2,052p in early trading.
Why it's interesting
It's a great time to be a housebuilder: not only are house prices rocketing, but the government is introducing all manner of schemes to help first-time buyers, thereby encouraging housebuilders to build.
In the last year alone, the Help to Buy Isa, the government's Starter Homes scheme and Nick Clegg's pet project, the garden cities initiative, have all been introduced in an effort to increase the number of homes being built.
But housebuilders are also finding themselves much-shorted: since the beginning of the year the share price of Berkeley Group, Persimmon's rival, has actually fallen by more than 13 per cent. Persimmon, meanwhile, is down just over one per cent.
Nevertheless, if recent reports are anything to go by, it's unlikely housebuilders will find themselves at too much of a loss. Official figures published last week suggested prices rose 9.4 per cent last year - and there's no sign they're letting up.
What Persimmon said
Nicholas Wrigley, the company's chairman, said:
It is now four years since we launched our long term strategy focused on growing Persimmon into a stronger, larger business while maintaining capital discipline and delivering robust free cash generation. The Group's ability to grow completion volumes by more than 55 per cent through this period while simultaneously returning £733m of excess capital to shareholders underlines the strength of its operating model.
Customer activity in the early weeks of the 2016 spring season has been encouraging and today's further £860m enhancement to the Capital Return Plan to a total of £9.00 per share is a measure of the Board's confidence in the Group's future progress.
Housebuilders continue to go from strength to strength.