Barratt profits more than double as home sales improve

UK homebuilder Barratt Developments saw a strong bounce in profits in the past financial year, helped by lower land prices.

Barratt said its full-year profits rose by 159% to £111m, while revenues were 14% higher at £2.3bn.

The company completed 12,637 properties during the period, up from 11,078 a year ago.

However, its shares fell 6.6% after it said it would not resume paying dividends to shareholders until 2013.

"[This] arguably signals a degree of caution," said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Keith Bowman.

He also cautioned that the construction industry's concentration on London and the South East could force up land prices.

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Media captionBarratt's Mark Clare explains how the housebuilder has taken advantage of lower land prices

The complexity of planning laws and the volatility of raw materials were also causes for concern, Mr Bowman said.

Barratt's chief executive, Mark Clare, said the past year had been challenging, with continuing restrictions on the availability of mortgage finance, particularly higher loan-to-value products.

Looking ahead, the company expects further improvements in profits.

"In the current financial year, we expect to make further progress, with more than half of completions forecast to be delivered from our more recently acquired higher margin land," said Mr Clare.

He added that the UK housing market was "broadly stable".

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