Barratt builds highest number of homes for a decade

UK builder expects pre-tax gain to rise 9% amid slowdown

Barratt Developments PLC has GBX 789 highest and GBX 525 lowest target.

Pre-tax profits at housebuilding giant Barratt Developments have surged past the £800m mark to reach record levels during its latest financial year, says the company - ahead of publishing its annual results on 5 September 2018.

Conditions in central London proved better than expected in the last couple of months, the housebuilder said, putting to rest some fears that the housing market in the capital was slowing. On Tuesday, March 6 the stock rating was maintained by Liberum Capital with "Sell".

The value of Barratt's forward order book rose 1.5% from £2.14 billion to £2.18 billion, representing 10,155 plots. A year ago the group had forward sales of 9,762 plots work £2.14bn.

"We begin the new financial year with a healthy forward order book, a strong cash position and a continued focus on delivery of operational improvements across our business", he added.

Among 10 analysts covering Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV), 8 have Buy rating, 0 Sell and 2 Hold. It also plans to pay special dividends of £175mln in November 2018 and 2019, as previously announced.

He added: "While profits might be at their highest for a decade, the share price is around 30 per cent lower than its peak in the second half of previous year".

The share price decline reflects a more uncertain outlook for the United Kingdom housebuilders amid Brexit negotiations, Khalaf said. Its most productive year to date was 2008, when it completed 18,500 properties. Mixed economic data, the possibility of rising interest rates, perhaps even as early as next month and falling house prices have weighed heavily on the sector.

Robin Hardy, analyst at Shore Capital Markets, said that while Barratt was beating expectations, there was reason to remain cautious about the housebuilder's outlook.

"Barratt remains more vulnerable to price deflation than most of its peers because its margins are much lower". Shore calculates that every one percentage point (i.e. 100 basis points) cuts 100 basis points from Barratt's margin.

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