The Berkeley Group Holdings plc
Interim Management Statement
Period from 1 November 2011 to 29 February 2012
19 March 2012
The Berkeley Group Holdings plc ("Berkeley") today announces its Interim Management Statement in respect of the period from 1 November 2011 to 29 February 2012.
Demand for Berkeley's residential property in London and the South East has been resilient since the beginning of the year, consistent in general terms with market conditions throughout 2011. The attraction of London as a World City is key to underpinning sales to international buyers and the current constrained supply of quality new homes in the best locations in the South East of the UK places a premium on Berkeley's product and maintains sales rates at previously achieved levels.
Despite the wider economic challenges, Berkeley has delivered a robust trading performance over the period, most noticeably through the further growth in cash due on forward sales which currently exceed £1 billion compared with £813 million at 1 May 2011. The visibility provided by these forward sales has given Berkeley the confidence to continue to invest in the delivery of its developments, including the launch of 7 new schemes in the period, whilst retaining appropriate control over balance sheet risk given current market conditions.
Additionally, Berkeley has continued to selectively invest in land and in the period has acquired or agreed terms on a further 7 sites for aggregate consideration of some £80 million. This is in addition to the 8 sites acquired in the first half and includes the former Royal Mail sorting depot in Twickenham for 129 homes and a site on Albert Embankment in London with an existing consent for 242 new homes. In respect of planning, the land bank has been enhanced in the period with detailed consents on 7 sites which previously did not have a residential planning consent and 10 detailed consents pursuant to existing outline or masterplan consents. In view of this further investment in land and the planning successes set out above, it is anticipated that the gross margin potential in Berkeley's land bank will exceed £2.5 billion at the year end, being at the higher end of the guidance provided at the half year.
Following this planned investment, Berkeley had £84 million of net debt at 29 February 2012 against its available banking facilities of £450 million. It is currently anticipated that Berkeley will be moderately indebted at the year end.
The conditions required to maintain the current level of demand call for a stable regulatory and taxation environment that affords customers the confidence to acquire new homes in the UK. Berkeley understands that the home construction sector plays an important role in delivering economic growth, new homes, infrastructure improvements and much needed employment and skills training in the UK. Since 2009, Berkeley alone has created in excess of 5,000 new jobs in construction directly as a result of its investment in new developments and calculates that some 3.5 direct new jobs are created for every new home being built by the Group. This is on top of the many indirect jobs created in businesses supplying the industry. In support of these wider economic benefits, Berkeley warmly welcomes recent Government initiatives such as the innovative New Buy scheme which is expected to provide an additional stimulus to support demand for new homes and in which Berkeley will participate in full.
Berkeley is well placed to deliver on its target to double profit before tax to some £220 million by 30 April 2013, two years earlier than originally planned and to enhance the value of its land bank to some £3 billion by April 2015. This puts in place the solid foundation from which to return £13 per share in cash to shareholders by September 2021 with the first dividend of £4.34 per share scheduled to be paid by September 2015. In respect of the current financial year ending 30 April 2012, the Board reiterates its guidance provided on 2 December 2011 that Berkeley aims to achieve a pre tax return on equity for the full year in line with the first half performance of 20.8%.
For further information please contact:
The Berkeley Group Holdings plc Cardew Group
R C Perrins Tim Robertson
N G Simpkin Georgina Hall
T: 01932 868555 T: 0207 930 0777