- Countryside Properties hiked its dividend even as first-profits modestly on lower margins as the UK home builder sold more lower-priced homes in the North and Midlands.

Given the continued 'strong cash generation in the business and our confidence in our mixed-tenure delivery, the Board has increased the dividend to 40 per cent of adjusted earnings with immediate effect,' the company said.

For the 6 months to 31 March, pre-tax profits fell to 2.8% £70.3m, but revenues jumped 27% to £507m.

Total completions soared 43% to 2,362 homes and forward order book was up 49% to £1.03bn, driven by a ramp up in sales of affordable completions, up 80% to 938 homes from 520 homes a year earlier.

Private average selling price fell by 4% to £377,000, driven by an increase in 'our regional businesses in the North and Midlands where average selling prices are lower,' the company said.

The net reservation rate came in at top end of its target range at 0.86, compared with 0.87 a year earlier.

'Following a strong second quarter, with a net private reservation rate at the top of our target range, we remain well placed to deliver on full year expectations, the company said.

'As expected, completions will be second half weighted but are underpinned by a strong forward order book and further outlet openings in the second half.'

'Our geographic expansion following the integration of Westleigh provides us with a platform for future growth. Additionally, we continue to see attractive new business opportunities in both divisions to support our medium-term strategy.'

At 8:22am: [LON:CSP] Countryside Properties PLC share price was -1.1p at 317.9p

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