* Says profit will rise up to 20 pct in H1
* Prices to continue to rise in H2
* Changing product mix drives prices higher - CEO
* Decline in consumer confidence has levelled out - CEO
* Shares rise 7.2 percent
(Adds CEO, analyst comments, details, updates shares)
By Adveith Nair
BANGALORE, Dec 7 British homebuilder Bellway
(BWY.L) expects first-half profit to rise up to 20 percent as
it sells houses in more expensive parts of the country, and
said average prices would continue to rise in the second half.
Bellway shares were up 7.2 percent at 598 pence at 1042 GMT
on Tuesday on the London Stock Exchange.
"We are doing fewer apartments, more houses," Chief
Executive John Watson told Reuters. "We are selling more houses
in the southern part of the country than in the north. That in
itself brings higher average selling prices."
Bellway has 3,614 sales secured for this fiscal year, up
nearly 4 percent, and 400 for the next financial year.
Average selling prices for these sales were up over 8
percent to 167,600 pounds ($263,400) and Watson said Bellway
would try to push this up to 170,000 pounds for the year ending
"What we are saying is while volumes may be flat, average
selling prices at the half and the year will be improving,"
The bright outlook, which puts first-half profit for the
current year at up to 22.8 million pounds, comes just two
months after Bellway abandoned its target to raise sales
volumes by 10 percent in 2011 following subdued activity in
Bellway had reported a pretax profit of 19 million pounds
for the first half ended January.
"We thought that there would be a lot of pain hitting the
economy (following the government spending review) and we were
worried," Watson said. "But it's not been that bad. We are
still managing to sell houses."
Bellway, the UK's fifth largest housebuilder by market
value, said full-year results would depend on the level of
consumer confidence during the 2011 spring selling season,
which in turn hinged on a supply of affordable mortgages.
The dearth of mortgages, which came about as the credit
crisis forced a majority of players to withdraw from the market
leaving just six lenders, and declining consumer confidence
ahead of painful government spending cuts had crippled demand
for homes in Britain.
While Bellway's forecast contrasts with mortgage lender
Nationwide, which said house prices fell for the fourth month
in five in November, it echoes rival Berkeley Group Holdings'
(BKGH.L) positive outlook. [ID:nSGE6B10A6]
(Reporting by Adveith Nair in Bangalore and Lorraine Turner in
London; Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal)