Testing period reduces housebuilder's profit to £39.1m but company still hopeful of increase in full year sales.

Contractor McCarthy & Stone is aiming to top last year's sales figures despite a 20% drop in pre-tax profits for the first six months of its financial year.

In figures for the six months to 28 February, the firm posted pre-tax profit of £39.1m, down from £48.8m a year earlier, on revenue that was unchanged at £131m.

It sold 753 homes in the six-month period, for an average sales price of £170,900, 3.3% up on last year's figure.

Chairman Keith Lovelock said: 'We expected the first half to be a testing period having entered the year with a relatively low level of reservations and so, in the light of a difficult market, we believe that the group has achieved a satisfactory outcome."

He said that a strategy of expanding the number of McCarthy & Stone's sales sites had achieved a 31% increase in reservations to 991, and the firm had entered the second half with a 22% increase in forward reservations at 493.

"We are seeing some signs of increasing buyer confidence although it is too early to assess how the market will develop. We now believe that there is an opportunity for the Group to exceed last year's sales of 1,983 units although we expect margins to ease as the higher historic margin sites are sold out."