Housebuilder Country & Metropolitan announced mediocre results for the six months to 28 February, disguised by the sale of a stake in Tay Homes that artificially boosted profit 66%.
The London firm's interim pre-tax profit rose from £1.03m last year to £1.71m, mainly because of a £1.12m profit from the sale to Redrow.

But operating profit fell slightly (2.8%) because of planning delays on units worth more than £1m. Turnover grew dramatically, by 64%, during the period, rising from £8.6m last year to £14.1m this year.

Chairman David Laing said the group expected to post better results in the second half of the year. He said: "We continue to secure consents … and demand in the South-east has picked up strongly since (last) autumn. Solid growth is being experienced in the North and North-west."

Demand in the South-east has picked up strongly, and solid growth is being experienced in the North

David Laing, chairman, Country & Metropolitan

But he added that the firm was conscious that the market in the South-east might be overheating, and that C&M had been cautious about land buying in the region.

C&M's shares were suspended three weeks ago after news broke that it was in merger talks with a privately owned housebuilder. It is understood that the unnamed firm is in the north of England.