LONDON Construction and housebuilding firm Galliford Try (GFRD.L) reported a 17 percent rise in full year pretax profit, boosted by higher housebuilding margins, and said its prospects for the coming year were encouraging.
Galliford Try said on Tuesday pretax profit for the year to the end of June rose to 74.1 million pounds ($118 million) from 63.1 million pounds. Group revenues, which excludes joint venture revenue of 92.1 million pounds, fell 2 percent to 1.47 billion pounds.
The company also raised its dividend payment by 23 percent to 37 pence per share.
"We have made excellent progress as a group in the financial year and delivered a record profit before tax," Chief Executive Greg Fitzgerald said.
"Both businesses are, against a background of some labour and supply challenges, maximising production to respond to strengthening customer demand and improved conditions. The board is optimistic that the improved opportunities being experienced will continue through into 2014."
Operating margins in housebuilding, which accounts for just over 40 percent of Galliford's business, rose 11 percent to 13.1 percent following a strategy of buying land cheaply during the financial crisis in south and south east England.
Housebuilding sales currently reserved, contracted or completed are up 16 percent to 405 million pounds, thanks to government schemes to support struggling buyers and greater mortgage availability, it said.
Construction, which makes up 62 percent of the business, posted a weaker margin of 1.7 percent which was in line with its expectations, it said, adding that there were signs of an improving market. The unit has a orderbook of 1.7 billion pounds and 87 percent of current year's planned revenue has been secured.
Separately, housebuilder Crest Nicholson (CRST.L) said its reservation rates over the period since May 1 were up 46 percent compared to the same period in 2012 and that it remained on track to deliver its planned production output in 2013.
($1 = 0.6275 British pounds)
(Reporting by Brenda Goh; editing by Sarah Young)