Housebuilder says it will open 90 sites in the first six months of 2010

Housebuilder Persimmon today reported full-year pre-tax profit of £77.8m, recovering from a loss of £780m in 2008.

However, the profit, on revenues of £1.42bn, down 19% from the £1.76bn reported in 2008, was largely due to a £74.8m write back of land value. The firm said underlying profits were just £7m.

This was down 94% on the underlying profit of £126m in the previous year. The housebuilder's full pre-tax profit in 2008 was hit by a £904m writedown in land and goodwill.

The firm said the fall in underlying profit hid a much stronger performance in the second half of the year, with £23.7m of profits in that period following losses in the first half.

The results were gained on sales of 8,976, down from the 10,202 recorded in 2008, with average selling price also down 7% to £160,513.

The firm said it had made £260m worth of sales since the start of the year, with a total of £900m of forward sales for 2010, compared to just £700m at the same point last year.

The firm said it would open 90 sites in the first six months of 2010 and had reduced debt to just £267.5m, down from £600.5m last year.

John White, Group Chairman, said: “Our cash generation and cost control have placed the business in a strong position both operationally and financially for a recovering market. Prices have held firm since the beginning of the year and we remain focused on improving our operating margins and to profitably grow the business.”