Crest Nicholson says results will top market forecasts, to reinstate dividend

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Crest Nicholson PLC (LON:CRST), the housebuilder, has said its full-year profits were well ahead of market expectations and will be close to the top of its forecast range.

The FTSE 250 group, which had previously forecast profits in a range of £35mln-45mln for the year to October 31, 2020, added that it would also reinstate the dividend with its next interim results.

Crest Nicholson said it has seen sales remain strong in the second half of its financial year and at levels slightly ahead of the pre-Spring lockdown.

Forward sales as at October 31, 2020, were 2,289 units worth £480.5mln compared to 2,013 units and £378mln a year earlier.

The builder’s portfolio is concentrated in Southern England and the commuter belt to major towns and cities, especially London.

In the trading update, Peter Truscott, Crest’s chief executive, said the introduction of another national lockdown ‘will undoubtedly bring fresh challenges’ but he welcomed the government’s support to maintain construction activity and that the housing market was allowed to stay open.

“Since the Spring lockdown we have traded well and as a result are pleased to announce an upgrade to earnings for the year. We also enter next year with a strong forward order book,” he added in the statement.

“Our disciplined focus on cash generation and capital allocation has ensured we close the year with an excellent cash position and a robust balance sheet. Accordingly, we are pleased to be reinstating our dividend in the next financial year.”

At the end of October 2020, Crest had net cash of £135mln against £37.2mln a year earlier, while a £300mln coronavirus credit facility from the government remains undrawn.

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