Bovis back in the black but remains wary

Marion Dakers
Bovis Homes swung to a pre-tax profit in the first half of the year yesterday, with the housebuilder saying that sales are holding up during the sluggish summer months.

We have seen a remarkable stability of sales rates week on week, clearly people talk about the summer being quieter than the spring, we’ve seen a bit of that,” said chief executive David Ritchie. “But each week we appear to get over the line in terms of the number of houses we need to sell.”

The group sold 803 homes in the first half of 2010, compared to 754 in the same period last year. Bovis has resumed dividend payments after 19 months, on the back of pre-tax profit of £3.5m for the six months to the end of June, compared to a loss of £8.6m in the same period last year.

Revenue dipped slightly to £115.6m, though the firm’s bottom line was boosted by better loan terms.

Ritchie told City A.M. the company remains cautious over the state of the housing market. “We wouldn’t say the markets are in recovery; I think stability is the best thing we can call it. But it allows us to invest at cost effective rates for the future, and we are more than replacing [the land] we have used up.”

The firm purchased 1,874 plots with planning permission in the period, adding to a total land bank with consent to build of 13,113 plots. Shares dipped 1.6 per cent to 342.8p.