Housing tracker … but Weston Homes and Bellway made most hay when the sun shone

Accountant BDO Stoy Hayward’s latest figures on housebuilders’ performance in the third quarter of last year reflect the calm before the storm.

The largely positive profit figures, produced for Building, were skewed by the fact that strong performers Berkeley Group and Bellway Homes both issued results.

Top of the pile was Berkeley, which announced operating margins of 21.3% for the six months to October 2007, up from 18.4% in the same period in 2006.

City analysts said the group had benefited from the fact it had limited exposure to the market outside London.

Telford Homes, another company with significant South-east exposure, fared less well. It announced 15% margins for the six months to September 2007, down from 17.1% in 2006.

Bellway said operating margins for the six months to July 2007 were 18.7%, only very slightly down on last year’s figure of 19.5%.

The news was worse at MJ Gleeson, which reported an operating margin of –6.9% in the year to December 2006.

Private company Weston Homes reported a margin of 23.3% for the six months to July 2007. BDO said other private groups had remained tight-lipped on how they were doing. Richard Kelly, BDO’s head of construction, said: “As for the likes of Crest Nicholson, Countryside and McCarthy & Stone, no results have been seen in over a year.”