Thursday 19 March 2020 8:29 am

Crest Nicholson cancels dividend and guidance on coronavirus concerns

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has cancelled payment of its final dividend and withdrawn its full-year financial guidance due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The company also said it would draw down all of a £250m credit facility to help cope with the hit to its business from Covid-19 related shutdowns. 

Crest Nicholson said it would have £185m cash and a strong balance sheet after the drawdown.

“We consider these measures to be in the best interests of all our stakeholders and will best ensure the long-term viability of the business at this time,” the housebuilder said. 

Since the start of the year, Crest Nicholson has traded in line with expectations, it said, with increases in website traffic, footfall and reservations. 

But the company expects the rapidly-worsening coronavirus outbreak to “have a significant impact on visitor levels, production capability and trading performance over an unclear timeline”.

“The board recognises that these are significant steps to take,” the firm said, “but when faced with this unprecedented and unpredictable situation, considers it to be prudent to protect the company’s cash position and maintain a robust balance sheet”.

In a seperate update to the stock exchange this morning, Crest Nicholson said it is currently expecting its annual general meeting to take place as planned in Surrey on 24 March but was monitoring the situation closely. 

The meeting will be “as concise and efficient as possible”, with extra hygiene requirements and limited attendance of employees and board directors. 

Shares in the housebuilder fell as much as 6.21 per cent in early trading.