Poor old Westbury this week posted a great set of interim results – with pre-tax profit up 20% to £34.8m – but do you think the City raced to buy up shares? Of course not. In fact, the share price was just about static and ended where it started at 237.5p.
The lack of interest in Westbury has been mirrored in just about all the major housing stocks. But in the case of Berkeley it has turned into an unhealthy aversion.
Since hitting a high of 885p in early March, its share price has slowly fallen. But the price has plummeted since the terror attacks and concerns about a London property collapse. It is now wallowing at 577p, which is, however, still an improvement on the 513p low just after 11 September.
Two housebuilders have warned that reservations and sites visits have fallen and the RICS warned this week that house prices are expected to fall and could stay in the doldrums until next summer.
Not a happy prospect. So what are the housebuilders to do? "There's not much they can do, unfortunately for them," explains an analyst unhelpfully. "Aside from keeping overheads low and hoping like hell the market stays steady, it is out of their hands."