Barratt Developments profits up 8.8% to £321m
Housebuilder Barratt Developments has reported a healthy rise in half-year profits after notching up a large number of completions outside London.
The company said pre-tax profits rose 8.8% to £321 million in the six months to December 31, despite revenue falling 3.2% to £1.8 billion.
Boss David Thomas said: "We have delivered another very strong first-half performance, pre-tax profits were up nearly 9% and completions outside of London at their highest level in nine years."
Total completions were down 5.8% to 7,180 with a slowing property market in London dragging on performance.
Completions in London came in at 367 versus 842 in the same period last year, although Barratt expects sales in the capital to pick up in the second half of the year.
Mr Thomas said: "With a record forward order book, strong consumer demand and a positive lending backdrop, we remain confident in our outlook for the full year. Our confidence in the business going forward is reflected in the improved and extended capital return plan."
The group said the " fundamentals" of the housing market remain robust, with strong demand supported by good mortgage availability and the Help to Buy scheme.
The housebuilder hiked its interim dividend 22% to 7.3p.
Shares in Barratt rose 1.65% to 523p in morning trading and George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Up to now, the UK's housebuilders have generally espoused a tone of cautious optimism following the Brexit vote. Barratt Developments has this morning gone a step beyond, and has adopted a more aggressive dividend policy.
"The extension of the group's generous capital returns plan is certainly eye-catching, but the decision to pay out a higher proportion of earnings in the ordinary dividend is just as much of a sign of its confidence."