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Ian Pollard – Housebuilders In Cloud Cuckoo Land

Bovis Homes BVG delivered a total of 1,580 completions in the half year to the 3oth June, slightly ahead of  expectations and an increase of 4% on the previous year. Average selling prices for private houses only managed by a whisker to avoid falling into negative territory at £335,000 compared to last years £334,700. The total average selling price represented nothing less than a disaster, collapsing from £277,400 last year to this years £261,000 Bovis  claim that  the fundamentals of the housing market remain robust. Rumors that their latest new site will be in cloud cuckoo land are not to be believed.

Persimmon PSN It is not all that long ago when a set of results like these from one of the country’s major house builders would have been regarded as a national disaster. Gone, however, are the days of double digit increases in this that and the other and Persimmon regards itself as being in a robust position merely because it has managed to scrape into positive territory. It provides an update that in the six months to the 30th June revenue increased by 5% and completions of new houses, rose by 3.6%. Most telling of all however is the fact that Persimmon was only able to increase its the average selling price by a mere 1.2%. In other words new house price inflation is virtually dead, despite the fact that consumer confidence is resilient and business is claimed to be robust.

Associated British Foods ABF updates that the revenue momentum of the first half continued into the second half with like for like group revenue in the forty weeks to the 23rd June being 3% ahead of last year at constant currency rates and 2% ahead at actual exchange rates. Lower EU sugar prices impacted the performance of the Sugar division without which the increases become even more respectable at 6% and 5% respectively. Good profit growth for the full year is expected from Grocery and Agriculture. The continuing decline in wold sugar prices means that sales and profit at AB Sugar, both for this financial year and the next will be lower than previously expected.

Primark is benefiting from higher margins and sales in the year to date were 6% ahead of last year at constant currency rates and 7% ahead at actual exchange rates. This was mainly due to an increase in selling space but like-for-like sales improved on those for the first half of the year. Margins in the second half are expected to be well ahead of the first half.

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