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Countryside Properties ramps up the dividend as the cash rolls in

A stronger cash position has allowed Countryside to acquire Westleigh from existing resources
Rural house
The land bank had 19,741 plots, down from 20,472 plots a year before

Houses builder Countryside Properties PLC (LON:CSP) has ended the first half of its financial year in a stronger cash position than it expected.

Unlike its sector peer Crest Nicholson, which yesterday issued a profit warning based on sliding margins, Countryside’s trading statement was more in line with other sector peers, such as Barratt Developments, that seem to be rolling in cash.

READ: Barratt Developments rolling in more cash than it expected​

The firm completed 1,655 homes in the six months to the end of March, up 15% from 1,437 in the corresponding period 12 months earlier.

Adjusted revenue rose 7% to £468.0mln from £435.4mln the year before, with the average selling price on private residences sliding to £392,000 from £441,000.

Profit before tax climbed to £73.7mln from £60.3mln the previous year.

The adjusted operating margin rose nine-tenths of a percentage point to 17.2% from 16.3%.

The firm ended the reporting period with net cash of £13.7mln, compared to debt of £35mln at the end of March 2017.

The dividend per share has been whacked up 21% to 4.2p from 3.4p.

"We continue to deliver our strong organic growth trajectory with robust trading in all regions. We enter the second half in great shape and our acquisition of Westleigh will further increase our momentum by expanding our geographic reach and mixed tenure delivery,” said Ian Sutcliffe, the group chief executive of Countryside.

“With continued strong growth in Partnerships and improved efficiency and returns in the Housebuilding division we remain confident of maintaining our sector leading growth over the medium-term," he added.

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