Taylor Wimpey upbeat despite losses

HOUSEBUILDER Taylor Wimpey has suggested that its prospects are improving despite posting sizeable full-year losses for 2009.

The FTSE 250 company posted full-year losses of 640.6m, following on from a deficit of £1.97bn the previous year and saw its revenue slip to £2,595m from £3,467m in 2008, but said “improving conditions” had led to a significantly stronger second half.

Both the UK and US markets staged a comeback in the latter half of 2009, making a swing back to profitability and were poised for much the same progress in 2010.

US housing market stability has continued into this year, a company statement said, while UK trading conditions were described as “encouraging” in the first two months of 2010.

Chief executive Peter Redfern said: “Trading conditions for our main businesses stabilised through 2009 and we were pleased to return to operating profit in both the UK and North America in the second half of the year.

“Whilst we remain cautious, we are continuing to see slowly improving conditions across our main markets. Our active cost reduction, high quality landbank and strong order book position us well to increase profitability as markets recover."

UK houses fetched an average price tag of £160,000 in 2009 - down from £171,000 seen in 2008 – but showing steady improvement as the year progressed.

The group, which was created following a merger of Taylow Woodrow and George Wimpey in 2007, expects to see a significant upturn in house prices once confidence is restored to the mortgage market.

Affordability levels in the US, meanwhile, remain at record highs and suggest there is scope for house prices rises once the wider economic environment stabilises, the group said. In addition, the US government’s firsy time buyer tax credit is likely to lend support to the market during the key spring selling season, while Canadian conditions remain “robust”.

Neverthless, shareholders awaiting a dividend were left disappointed after the company declared it would not be proposing an interim, nor a full year dividend for 2009, but said it would continue to review the “appropriateness of reinstituting dividend payments in the light of prevailing market conditions in the future”.