Persimmon cements strong 2016 as pre-tax profit jumps 23 per cent and revenues rise

Rebecca Smith
Average selling price of houses rose 3.8 per cent to £206,765
Average selling price of houses rose 3.8 per cent to £206,765 (Source: Getty)

No shaky foundations here. Persimmon has announced a rise in underlying profit of nearly a quarter and growing sales for 2016 too as the FTSE 100 firm built more homes.

Shares were up 1.53 per cent in early trading to 2,056p.

Read more: Persimmon lays some strong foundations for 2017

The figures

Full-year revenue rose eight per cent to £3.14bn, while underlying profit before tax shot up 23 per cent to £782.8m from £637.8m the year before. That's before a goodwill impairment of £8m.

Legal completions were also on the up - adding 599 more houses than 2015 to finish 15,171 new homes for the year, with a rising average selling price of £206,765, an increase of 3.8 per cent.

Just under 50 per cent of its total private market sales were delivered at prices of under £200,000 though.

Underlying basic earnings per share rose 19 per cent to 205.6p.

The performance of the business enabled the capital return plan to be increased by 45 per cent to £2.76bn or £9 a share in February 2016.

Why it's interesting

Well it's a bit of a difference from Bovis' results last week, when shares slumped eight per cent after the housebuilder announced it was taking a £7m customer service hit. And the homebuilding sector is set for a challenging environment in the year ahead with a slowdown in wage growth and rise in inflation potentially lining up a squeeze on spending later this year, according to analysts.

The government's unveiling of the much-anticipated housing white paper earlier this month has provided a boost for Persimmon, with its shares rising in the aftermath. Published by communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid, the paper outlined measures including a £3bn fund to help small firms build more, and plans to help institutional investors boost the private rented sector.

Read more: Persimmon shrugs off Brexit vote but says it's staying cautious

What the company said

Group chairman Nicholas Wrigley said:

Persimmon continued to perform strongly in 2016, meeting market demand with increased output and delivering disciplined high quality growth.

The group has now completed the first five years of its long term strategy which remains focused on growing Persimmon into a stronger, larger business while maintaining capital discipline and robust free cash generation.

The strength of the group's operating model is demonstrated by our ability to grow completion volumes by more than 60 per cent and investing c. £2.6bn of cash in land through this period while simultaneously returning over £1bn of excess capital to shareholders.

What analysts said

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The Brexit-shaped dent in Persimmon’s share price has now been almost entirely repaired by brisk trading and resilient performance from the UK economy. Business so far this year also appears to have continued in a manner which will confound sceptics, and in a show of strength Persimmon is extending its already prodigious capital return plan, which will mean more cash paid back to shareholders."