Belfast Telegraph

Taylor Wimpey shrugs off Brexit uncertainty to boost profits

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has said it is business as usual after it boosted profits and shrugged off uncertainty surrounding Britain's referendum on the EU.

The FTSE 100 firm said trading was "in line with normal seasonal patterns" as pre-tax profits stepped up 12% to £266.6 million for the six months to July 3.

Revenues picked up 9% to £1.5 billion over the period as it built more than 6,000 homes in the first half of the year.

Shares were up more than 5%.

Chief executive Pete Redfern said customer interest has continued to be high since Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

He added: "We are monitoring customer confidence closely across a number of metrics, including appointment bookings, and these continue to be solid.

"Whilst it is still too early to assess what the longer term impact from the referendum result on the housing market may be, we are encouraged by the first month's trading and by continued competitive lending from the mortgage providers as well as the positive commentary from Government and policy-makers."

The firm saw a 5.8% increase in the total average selling price to £238,000 for first half of the year, up from £225,000 over the same period in 2015.

It said it also had a strong order book of 8,683 homes worth £2.2 billion .

But while trading remains robust, the company said it had seen some slowing in the London property market.

It added: "Whilst we saw a small increase in the average cancellation rate immediately following the referendum, this remained low compared to long-term historic norms and is now back in line with recent low levels.

"The markets in all of our core regional geographies, which are the primary drivers of our business, continue to trade positively.

"Whilst the wider London market remains robust and in line with the rest of the UK, the central London market has continued to slow, particularly at the upper end of the market."

Housing stocks took a battering on London's top flight index immediately after the Brexit vote. Shares in Taylor Wimpey are still 24% lower than their closing price on June 23.

Latih Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said Taylor Wimpey "isn't blinking in the face of Brexit".

He added: "Confidence is a key part of the housing market, and so far this seems to be holding up well in the weeks following the EU vote.

"The long-term economic outlook of the Brexit decision is still unclear, and any rise in unemployment would be negative for the UK housing market.

"However, the UK still has a housing shortage, ultra-low interest rates, and Government initiatives like Help to Buy, which should all put upward pressure on property prices, and provide sustenance for companies like Taylor Wimpey."