But the sector remains unloved in the Square Mile. No fewer than seven housebuilders made it into The Sunday Times' top 50 undervalued firms on the stock market. Wilson Bowden topped the list – in the week when the firm posted its sixth successive year of record profit. The group's pre-tax profit was up 15.3% to £139.2m for the year to 31 December 2001 and it predicted a further year of progress in 2002.
The anomaly led one housebuilding rival to call this week for a campaign to improve housebuilders' ratings. "It's derisory right now," he complained.
In spite of this, housebuilders' stock has performed pretty solidly in the last week. One analyst said this came despite the predicted rise in interest rates, which could impact on stocks. The continuing shortage of new housing could see housebuilders ride through such a rise, however.