Barratt Developments defies Brexit doomsayers with "confident" outlook

Jessica Morris
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House Prices Are Stagnant In London
There is weak demand for London homes worth more than £600,000 (Source: Getty)

The figures

Barratt Developments' completions swelled by 5.3 per cent to 17,319 homes in the year ended 30 June, meaning it delivered completion volumes for eight years.

This helped the housebuilder's pre-tax profit jump 20.7 per cent to a record £682.3m during this period, up from £565.5m a year earlier.

The company also significantly strengthened its balance sheet, with Barratt's cash pile rising 217.43 per cent to £592m in 2016.

Why it's interesting

Shares in Barratt tumbled in the wake of the UK's decision to leave the European Union, reflecting investors concerns about its impact on the British housing market

But the company said today it has so far remained unscathed by the Brexit vote, with chief executive David Thomas saying "current trading trends are positive, and I remain confident in the fundamentals of the housing sector and of our business".

It's more good news for London-listed housebuilders, which were buoyed yesterday by positive results from big-hitters Berkeley Group. The company expects to meet its profit targets despite headwinds such as the Brexit vote and recent changes to stamp duty.

But Barratt did note that there had been less demand in parts of the London market, with a slowdown in the sales rate of homes valued at over £600,000. However, appetite for homes under this threshold had been boosted by the increase in the Help to Buy qualifying value limit to 40 per cent in the capital.

What Barratt Developments said

"Whilst the outcome of the EU referendum has increased levels of economic and political uncertainty, the group is in a strong position, with a substantial year end net cash balance, healthy forward sales position and an experienced management team," John Allan, the company's chairman, said.

"The board will continue to monitor the market and economy and take appropriate action where necessary. The wider market for new homes remains healthy across Britain, with a long term undersupply of new homes, strong government support to the sector and a liquid mortgage market."

"Consequently, we remain confident in the strong fundamentals of the housing sector and our business."

What the analysts said:

Peter Read, co-founder of trading network Pelican, said: "Traders on Pelican overwhelmingly have a positive view of Barratt and the house building sector in general. There are simply not enough houses in the UK, particularly in the South-East where Barratt specialises.

"The economic data following Brexit has been better than many expected and, with interest rates likely to remain rock bottom for years to come, our traders see plenty of encouragement in this sector."