Shares in UK's biggest housebuilder rise 14p to 813.5p as strong half-year results are announced.

Shares in Persimmon, the UK’s biggest housebuilder, rose 14p to 813.5p this morning as it reported a strong set of results for the six months to 30 June.

Pre-tax profit in the period rose by 7% to £235m, which was a record for the first six-month period of any financial year in the company’s history.

Turnover rose 10% from £1bn to £1.1bn.

The company said that it had been able to offset the impact of using incentives and additional marketing costs due to the slowdown in the market by minimising costs elsewhere in the company.

It said it did not expect any “significant reduction” in margins in the second half of the year.

Persimmon recommended an interim dividend of 12p per share, up 32%.

Despite a slowdown in the housing market, Persimmon chairman Duncan Davidson was upbeat about prospects for the company: “Whilst the current market requires us to be flexible in our approach to both sales and marketing, it is nevertheless one in which we can continue to operate successfully. We remain optimistic for the business in 2005 and are well placed for 2006 and beyond,” he said.

Analysts at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein said: “We reiterate our view that Persimmon’s performance would beat most peers and that the sector may gain some strength in the short-term, until rivals start reporting early next month.”