Housebuilder makes operating profit of £43.3m and halves debt

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey reported a pre-tax loss of £640m for 2009, after taking a £604m write-down for land values in the first half of last year.

The loss was, however, 65% smaller than that in 2008 and the housebuilder said it was actually able to write-back £15.8m in the second half of last year as sales values exceeded assumptions.

The loss was on revenues of £2.60bn, down a quarter from the £3.47bn recorded last year. It managed to make an operating profit of £43.3m, down from £96.3m last year. It also managed to halve debt over the period, down from £1.53bn in 2008 to £750m in 2009.

Chief executive Pete Redfern said the company was seeing slowly improving markets in all of its geographies, but remained cautious about outlook. The firm described the start of the year as “encouraging” with better market conditions from 2009 continuing. It said it had bought 4,000 plots in the last 12 months.

In total it built 10, 186 homes in the UK at an average selling price of £160k, down 25% and 6% respectively.

Redfern said: “Trading conditions for our main businesses stabilised through 2009 and we were pleased to return to operating profit in both the UK and North America in the second half of the year. Whilst we remain cautious, we are continuing to see slowly improving conditions across our main markets. Our active cost reduction, high quality landbank and strong order book position us well to increase profitability as markets recover."