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Bellway ups dividend on profit return

HOUSEBUILDER Bellway is looking to boost its activity levels in coming months after returning to profit in its first half trading.

The UK’s fifth largest housebuilder, led by chief executive John Watson, posted profits of £19m for the six months to 31 January amid strong growth in the number of homes sold.

This compares to a loss of £48.6m for the same period last year.

Turnover also increased 13 per cent to £360m. As previously announced, Bellway completed 2,247 homes during the period – up around 12 per cent on 2009 with the average selling price dipping slightly to £155,871.

Chairman Howard Dawe said: “Bellway is well placed to benefit from a housing market that should gradually improve over time.”

Its order book currently stands at £435.4m, up 18 per cent on the same period last year.

Dawe added the group will be concentrating on land acquisition and selectively increasing work in progress in the coming months. It will focus on the southern divisions “where the market appears to be at a more advanced stage of recovery”.

The Newcastle-based firm is currently trading from 180 sites but expects to increase this to around 200 in 12 months’ time. However, Dawe also echoed the views of his rivals in highlighting ongoing concerns over unemployment, political uncertainty ahead of the general election and poor mortgage availability. With its balance sheet looking stronger and a positive cash position today of around £72m, Bellway hiked its interim dividend ten per cent to 3.3p.