Results from Persimmon, Bovis Homes and Taylor Wimpey over the past fortnight contained about as much sunshine for investors as the month of August.
By Wednesday morning, our imaginary £100 punt on Persimmon was worth £47. The same stake in Taylor Wimpey, bought at the end of February, was worth £38 while in Bovis it had turned into £73.
There was some respite on Tuesday after Building revealed Taylor Wimpey had reached an agreement with banks to relax its lending covenants without fresh cash.
Taylor Wimpey shares climbed 10% and the next morning the group was bullish about putting pen to paper on the deal in the coming weeks. Norman Askew, its chairman, said he was “not aware of any issues” that would prevent it going ahead by the end of the year.
Beneath the gloomy figures there were glimmers of hope. All three companies used the term “stability”, saying that while there were no signs of improvement, neither were things getting worse.
Persimmon said it was “bumping along at the bottom”, which was widely interpreted as the company calling the bottom of the market. A phone call from Persimmon soon put us right though – it wasn’t.