Bellway lifts dividend as profits jump

 
Kasmira Jefford
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BELLWAY hiked its dividend by nearly a third after strong sales in London and the south east helped boost full-year profits by 51 per cent – beating market expectations.

The UK’s fourth largest housebuilder by market capital reported pre-tax profits of £67.2m for the 12 months to 31 July, up from £44.4m the previous year.

John Watson, Bellway’s chief executive, said sales in the first nine weeks of the new financial year were up 11 per cent compared with the same period in 2010, boosted by the opening of new selling outlets.

“The group ended the year operating from 205 outlets, having started with 185 and, with the benefit of a strong balance sheet, we are in a good position to increase our land bank and sales outlets in the future,” Watson said.

The number of completed sales rose to 4,922, up seven per cent from last year, but still below record highs of 7,638 homes in 2007.

Housebuilders have suffered in recent years as a slowdown in government spending, the lack of mortgages and economic uncertainty continues to hit sales prompting firms to shift their product mix towards more popular family-sized homes and focus their activities on the more lucrative south-east.

The group increased its final dividend by 31.3 per cent from 6.7p to 8.8p. Shares rose 3.10 per cent to 698.50p last night.