Housebuilder posts £0.3m profit but downplays return to confidence

M J Gleeson has reported a £0.3m profit compared to loss of £23.7m in 2008 in results for the six months to 31 December 2009.

Profit for the period from continuing operations increased by 17% to £36.0m compared to £30.6m in 2008, and revenue grew to £35.97m from £30.59m a year earlier.

The board will pay a special dividend of 15 pence a share to shareholders on the register at the close of business on 5 March 2010. This special dividend, which will cost £8m in total, will be paid on 31 March 2010.

Gleeson Regeneration & Homes made an operating loss of £1.5m (2008: loss of £11.7m) on the sale of 101 units at an average selling price of £134,000 compared to £101,000 in 2008. Gleeson Strategic Land made an operating profit of £2.4m (2008: loss of £3.0m) on the sale of two land sales generating revenue of £9.8m.

Chairman Dermot Gleeson said in the report: "Although very limited in scale, there have been signs of a modest improvement in house buyer interest since the year end and Gleeson Regeneration & Homes is now seeking selectively to acquire new low cost development sites in areas in the north of England where there are opportunities to take advantage of much reduced land values. Gleeson Strategic Land completed two profitable land sales in the South of England.

“It is still too early to be confident that the modest improvement in the housing market referred to above heralds a sustained recovery. However... costs across the group have been substantially reduced [so that] the group is well-placed to withstand, if necessary, a prolonged further period of weak demand and to resume profitable growth once confidence and liquidity return to the market.”