Bellway raises dividend after increased first half sales and profits

HOUSEBUILDER Bellway said today it was lifting its interim dividend by 62% as it posted increased first half sales and profits.

Bellway, whose current developments include sites in Stowmarket, Great Waldingfield, Colchester, Tiptree and Chelmsford, said group turnover for the six months to January 31 totalled �458.6million, up from �407.9m in last year’s first half, while pre-tax profit rose 69%, from �24.0m to �40.6m.

A total of 2,455 homes were sold during the first half, up 5.3% from 2,332 in the same period a year ago, at an average price of �182,753, up 8.5% from �168,428.

Bellway added that its forward order book was also stronger than at the same stage a year ago, at �498.5m against �479.2m. The interim dividend will rise from 3.7p to 6.0p per share

“Bellway has completed another six-month period of growth in volume, selling price and operating margin,” said Chairman Howard Dawe.

“The board has maintained its record of paying a dividend every year since the group’s flotation in 1979, having continued this record throughout the recent economic downturn.

“I am therefore delighted to announce that the interim dividend will be increased substantially by over 62%, from 3.7p to 6.0p per ordinary share.

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“Furthermore, the board intend to maintain a full year cover of between 3 and 3.5 times, thereby balancing the need for certainty of return to shareholders with continued investment in land in order to maintain volume growth.”

He added that “there remains an underlying demand for our homes” and “the group therefore intends to continue its three-pronged strategy of delivering volume, selling price and operating margin growth”.