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Crest Nicholson profit falls, sees "difficult" first half

(Reuters) - Crest Nicholson forecast a "difficult" first half as the British housebuilder's full-year profit fell short of expectations with Brexit uncertainty hurting demand.

Crest, traditionally associated with upmarket properties in southern England, is among the housebuilders that have suffered from a Brexit-driven drop in prices. The company's problems have been further compounded by rising costs that have pressured margins.

"Persisting uncertainty about the political and economic direction of the country, largely Brexit related, appears to have inclined many discretionary purchasers to refrain from making a buying commitment," the company said in a statement.

Crest said it was cutting costs, including reviewing its supply chain and processes, and shore up margins which fell to 16.7 percent in the full year from 20.3 percent a year earlier.

The builder expects the cost-saving plan to take effect over the next few years with pricing remaining stable and build cost inflation moderating.

The company's pretax profit fell 15 percent to 176.4 million pounds for the year ended Oct. 31. Analysts on average had estimated 177.64 million pounds, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

The builder delivered 3,020 new homes during the year, 3 percent higher than a year earlier. Average selling price ticked up 1.3 percent to £393,000 on open market sales.

Shares of the company were expected to fall between 3 to 5 percent, according to premarket indicators.

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Gopakumar Warrier)