Berkeley Group Increases Land Bank

As Part of its Interim Statement  issued last Friday 3/11/2010 the Berkeley Group gave details of its increased land bank, including traditional sites (one assumes not classed as brown field) in St Albans, Oxford and Horsham. Other sites acquired as their report suggests are in Prime London locations.

An Extract of the Land Section of the Interim statement is given below:

Land Holdings

 At 31 October 2010, the Group (including joint ventures) controlled some 28,914 plots with an estimated gross margin of £2,301 million.  This compares with 28,099 plots and an estimated gross margin of £2,038 million at 30 April 2010. Of the total 28,914 plots, 28,647 plots (April 2010: 27,094) are owned and included on the balance sheet.  In addition, 226 plots (April 2010: 935) are contracted and 41 plots (April 2010: 70) have terms agreed. In excess of 95% of our holdings are on brown-field or recycled land.  

The increase in the land bank is a result of new land acquisitions in the period which has seen Berkeley agree 13 new sites, covering some 2,500 plots.  These new sites include prime London sites in Westminster and on Hammersmith Embankment, traditional sites in St Albans and Oxford and a site in Horsham for over 1,000 units acquired through strategic land in its long-term pipeline. All of the sites agreed are in excellent locations in London and the South East with strong underlying demand for quality new homes where Berkeley can create vibrant new communities and enhance value through its development expertise. 

In addition to the 28,914 plots in its land bank, and after accounting for the transfer of the site at Horsham acquired in the period to the land bank, Berkeley continues to have approximately 10,000 plots in its long-term pipeline, which it envisages delivering over the next ten years.  This includes the latter phases of Kidbrooke and Woodberry Down, strategic land and a number of sites being worked up within St Edward Homes, Berkeley’s joint venture with Prudential.  Of a more long-term nature; Berkeley hopes these sites will come through into the land bank but they currently have an uncertain outcome due to planning policy or vacant possession issues.

In terms of planning, Berkeley entered the year having achieved new or revised planning consents on 38 of its sites in the run up to the May Election.  It is therefore very pleasing to have had a number of further notable successes in the first half of this year.  These include sites in Belgravia, Westminster, Greenwich, Roehampton and Oxford, and revised consents for schemes in Battersea and Acton and the second phase of the student scheme being developed in Clapham for Imperial College.  Through the ongoing re-planning and re-assessment process, the land bank includes a net reduction of approximately 400 plots due to a combination of re-planning densities and increasing individual unit sizes and removing plots that are no longer commercially viable. 

St Edward Homes accounts for some 1,400 plots in the land bank across three sites.  These include: Stanmore Place, where the first phase is selling well and development on later phases progressing and 375 Kensington High Street, which has been successfully launched to the market and where demolition work has begun.  In addition, Berkeley continues to work with Prudential to identify further sites to which St Edward Homes can add value and three of these are in the long-term pipeline.

The Berkeley Group – Interim Results

Interim Results 2010/11

 Announcing the results of The Berkeley Group Holdings plc (“Berkeley” or “the Group”) – the urban regenerator and residential property developer – for the six months ended 31 October 2010, Chairman, Tony Pidgley said:

“This strong set of results represents an excellent performance from Berkeley at a time when the economy is looking to find traction for what is proving an elusive sustained recovery.  When coupled with Berkeley’s strong balance sheet, its unrivalled land bank and the underlying demand for the well located, quality homes developed by Berkeley in London and the South East, the Group remains well positioned to deliver enhanced shareholder value.  As always, it is only through the hard work and dedication of Berkeley’s people that results such as these are possible.”

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PERIOD

·   Earnings per Share Up 19.2% to 33.5 pence (2009: 28.1 pence)
·   Profit before Tax Up 18.5% to £61.6 million (2009: £52.0 million)
·   Operating Margin 17.4% (2009: 17.4%)
·   Net Asset Value per Share Up 4.9% to 667.6 pence (April 2010: 636.7 pence) following acquisition of 3.8 million shares for £30.0 million
·   Net Cash £252.7 million (April 2010: £316.9 million)
·   Cash due on Forward Sales Up 21.9% to £790.1 million (April 2010: £648.1 million)
·   Land Bank 2,512 plots acquired and £263 million of future gross margin added in the period; an increase in value of 12.9% since 30 April 2010 

 

Commenting on the results, Managing Director, Rob Perrins, said:

 “Today’s results, which show an increase in both earnings and sales reservations approaching 20%, demonstrate the underlying resilience of the housing market in London and the South East over the last six months.  As a consequence, cash due on forward sales has increased by 21.9% over the period, providing forward visibility in a period which has seen Berkeley increase the number of sites from which it is selling.

Since the start of the year, Berkeley has acquired some 2,500 plots, including prime London sites in Westminster and on Hammersmith Embankment, both completing in the second half, and a site for 1,000 new homes in Horsham. Berkeley’s strategy is based on identifying opportunities to acquire land in the right locations to which we can add value and these results highlight growth of 12.9% in the value of land bank future gross margin, from £2,038 million to £2,301 million, in the six months.

 Overall, this strong performance provides the Board with confidence that Berkeley can outperform management’s original expectations for the current year and is well placed for the following year.

Finally, I am delighted that Berkeley’s Vision 2020 strategy, launched in June, has so quickly become part of the Group’s culture and continues to place Berkeley at the forefront of the industry.  For the fourth consecutive year Berkeley has ranked first in the NextGeneration Sustainability benchmark. In addition, St Edward’s development at Stanmore has received a coveted Building for Life award.  It is only by putting the customer and the communities we create at the heart of every decision that the challenges faced by the industry can be addressed.”

 Results

 Berkeley is pleased to announce a pre-tax profit of £61.6 million for the six months ended 31 October 2010.  This is an increase of 18.5% on the £52.0 million achieved in the same period last year, driven principally by an increase in revenue of 15.9% from £290.1 million to £336.2 million.  Operating margin of 17.4% is at a similar level to the first half of last year, with net finance income of £1.8 million (2009: £3.0 million) and joint ventures contributing £1.2 million of profit (2009: £1.6 million loss).  Basic earnings per share for the six months are 33.5 pence compared to 28.1 pence for the equivalent period last year; an increase of 19.2%.

 Outlook 

The housing market in London and the South East is characterised by an imbalance of demand for new homes in excess of supply.  The sites recently acquired by Berkeley are in excellent locations where this imbalance has traditionally been most acute.  For the time being therefore, and in the absence of any external shocks to the economy, Berkeley believes the current market in terms of prices and transaction levels should remain stable.  

Longer term, Berkeley’s outlook remains closely aligned to the success of London in attracting investment, employment and of course, retaining its status as the premier World City.  Outside London, which is more closely aligned with the UK domestic economy, the lack of liquidity and the absence of the feel-good factor remain constraints to an increase in transaction volumes on each site.

 With these challenging market conditions presenting opportunities for those with access to capital, Berkeley will enter 2011 in a strong position and with an increased level of confidence to deliver the new homes and places in which our customers aspire to live.

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