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Vistry sees annual profit at top end of range, to pay final dividend

·1-min read

(Reuters) - UK homebuilder Vistry Group Plc said on Tuesday it expects annual profit to be at the top end of its previously issued outlook range, and that it would resume dividend payments as the housing market recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic blow.

Shares of the company were trading about 4% higher in early trade.

With increased website traffic, high house prices and stamp duty breaks, housing market has seen a boom during the COVID-19 crisis while most of the other sectors suffer due to national lockdowns.

"We have seen strong demand for our homes during 2020... Customers continued to reserve homes during the second national lockdown in November, and throughout December, with our underlying sales rate up about 20% in the last six weeks of the year compared to the prior year equivalent period," the company said in a trading update.

Vistry's bigger rivals Persimmon and Barratt Developments have also reported a rebound in demand from COVID-19 disruption experienced in early-2020.

Vistry, which builds houses for both private customers and registered social landlords, in November forecast profit to be in the range of 130 million pounds ($176.14 million) to 140 million pounds for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020. It had reported a pre-tax profit of 188.2 million pounds in fiscal 2019.

The homebuilder also said it intends to resume dividend pay with "a modest final dividend" for fiscal 2020.

The company also forecast annual profit for 2021 to rise to 310 million pounds, citing strong forward sales position with 55% of total Housebuilding and Partnership mixed tenure forecast units for the period already secured.

($1 = 0.7381 pounds)

(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil and Priyanshi Mandhan in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)