Persimmon to reveal rate impact on level of home sales

Persimmon's chief executive Jeff Fairburn
Persimmon's chief executive Jeff Fairburn
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Persimmon will unveil results for the first half of the year next week, with investors keen to hear management’s view on whether the increase in interest rates is starting to impact sales.

The York-based housebuilder will say that revenue rose five per cent to £1.84 billion in the six months to June 30, with the Charles Church operator having in July pointed to “resilient” consumer confidence.

But City analysts believe the Bank of England’s recent decision to raise interest rates from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent could start to impact the housing market.

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Investors will be waiting to see if the Monetary Policy Committee’s decision to raise interest rates at the beginning of August has impacted Persimmon’s selling power.

“Mortgage approval rates for July showed another month of growth; an indicator that the first-time buyers Persimmon relies heavily on are continuing to find their way onto the property ladder.”

At its last trading update, Persimmon said it completed 8,072 house sales - up 3.6 per cent on a year earlier - of which around 4,900 were private sales.

The average selling price of private homes lifted 2% to around £236,700.

It also said it had a “strong platform to achieve further growth in the second half”, with forward sales 5 per cent higher at £1.68 billion.

The group posted half-year pre-tax profit of £457.4 million in 2017.

Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, said: “The last update in early July was seen as reassuring given the backdrop of economic uncertainty and rising interest rates.

“The market’s focus in this update will be on profit margins as the company said previously that it expected some improvement in the underlying housing margin in the first half.”