Just when we thought we’d had all the bad news from Countryside Properties, last Thursday the company issued its second profit warning in five months
The Essex-based company issued the warning just three weeks after chairman Alan Cherry said that he wanted to take the company private. Shareholders must be pondering long and hard the question why Countryside is apparently doing so badly, while seemingly every other housebuilder under the sun is producing excellent results.
Perhaps the poor performance in what has been a thriving market is down to Countryside’s exposure to the slowing South-east, although some would argue that a dented share price suits the Cherry family’s management buyout ambitions.
Cherry, meanwhile, is keeping quite, and speculation that a rival bidder will enter the fray continues.
On the same day, Countrywide, the UK’s biggest estate agent, issued a second profit warning of its own, just six weeks after the first. Its shares fell nearly 9% to 301p last week.
Quoted housebuilders will be immensely frustrated. While they may be accused at times of talking the market up – the opposite criticism of the one levelled at Countryside – their share prices have been hit despite brilliant results.
What must add to the frustration is the fact that Countryside is not even in the top 10 biggest housebuilders in the UK by volume. Yet it is a well-known operator with an effective PR machine and a high profile.
After the profit warning, shares in Countryside fell nearly 8% to 252p last week. As expected, housebuilders across the sector suffered as a result. Shares in Barratt, Bellway, Bovis Homes, Westbury and George Wimpey all dropped by more than 5%. Construction shares as a whole dropped slightly to 2849, largely because of the uplift in shares for the sector’s biggest company, Wolseley. The sector was outperformed by the All-Share, which dropped less than 0.5% to 2272.
On the alternative investment market, Raven Mount’s shares rose 12% to 74.5p after it announced plans to quit the luxury housing market.