Housebuilder blames costs of fending off takeover bid for fall in profit.

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has blamed costs incurred from its fight against Gerald Ronson for a 1% dip in pre-tax profits in its end of year results.

Announcing results for the year ended 31st October 2005, Crest said it had increased turnover to £714.3m from £643.2m, an increase of 11%.

Operating profit before exceptional costs increased to £97.0m, up 2% from last year. But profit before tax fell from £82.1m to £81.3m, with the amount earned by shareholders per share falling 5%.

Chief Executive Steve Stone said the firm's results were a strong performance in challenging conditions.

He said: "Our strong performance in 2005 demonstrates the resilience and flexibility of our business mix in challenging market conditions. We are particularly excited by our progress in mixed use and urban regeneration that we expect to be key components in the Group's future earnings growth."

"In addition, we have initiated a business improvement programme in order to maximise returns and we expect to deliver £10m of cost savings per annum by 2008."

"Our strong current forward order position and legal completions to date represent over 50% of our targeted housing sales for 2006. While it is too early to predict the outcome for 2006, early signs of an improving market, particularly in the South East, make us cautiously optimistic."