Berkeley share price: Property developer updates on recent trading

on Mar 18, 2016
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Berkeley Group (LON:BKG) has updated investors on its recent performance this morning.

**Highlights form the company statement:**
The Berkeley Group Holdings plc (“Berkeley”) today announces its Interim Management Statement which covers the period from 1 November 2015 to 29 February 2016.

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The London housing market has remained stable over the period and Berkeley is seeing good underlying demand for its properties, with cash due on forward sales remaining in excess of £3 billion. We welcome Government’s intentions to address the persistent and acute imbalance between housing supply and demand but are concerned that supply may not respond positively due a number of inter-related factors which include: complex and sometimes conflicting policies around planning and affordable housing; competing demands on limited and reducing public sector resources; and one of the world’s highest property taxation regimes.

For Berkeley, reservations are approximately 4% lower than in 2014/15 due to a change in mix of product and the strength of the forward sales secured in recent years. In spite of global macro uncertainty, including the impending UK European Referendum, underlying demand has remained strong. Transaction levels at the upper end of the housing market have been affected by the significant increase in transaction taxes over the last 18 months which will have consequential effects on both social mobility and the supply of new homes. Since the half year, we have sold 62 properties at prices over £2 million – a similar number to the same period in 2014/15, when the market slowed in the run-up to the General Election.
Berkeley remains on course to deliver £2 billion of pre-tax profit in aggregate over the three years culminating in 2017/18. For the current year, the Board anticipates results will be at the top end of expectations, after absorbing approximately £25 million of accelerated operating expenses, following the changes to the 2011 LTIP which were approved by 94% of shareholders voting at the General Meeting on 16 February 2016.
In line with the enhanced shareholder dividend return programme announced in December 2015 a dividend of £1.00 per share was paid in January 2016 (£137 million) and Berkeley is on target to pay a further £1 per share in September 2016, in line with the new dividend payment schedule. The dividend paid in January, along with the anticipated additional net investment in work-in-progress in the second half of the year of approximately £200 million, will see net cash at 30 April 2016 in the region of £100 million, allowing for further land expenditure.

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