StockMarketWire.com - Retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone downgraded its annual earnings guidance, blaming economic uncertainty in the UK and lower property pricing.

The company also said that chief executive Clive Fenton would retire at the end of August, adding that a search for successor had commenced.

For the year through August, operating profit was now expected at £65m-to-£80m, down from £96m on-year.

The forward order book including legal completions currently stood at around £67m ahead of the prior year's £706m.

'Whilst this is lower than management's expectations given the higher number of outlets, it is nevertheless sufficient to deliver within the new guided range,' McCarthy & Stone said.

'Incentives and discounts are also expected to remain approximately in line with recent prior year levels.'

During the crucial Spring selling season, however, the company said it was now forecasting around 2,100-to-2,300 legal completions, compared to 2,302 on-year.

'On 11 April, the group reported a good response to the opening of its new sales outlets during the first quarter of the calendar year,' the company said.

'Since this date, however, there has been a noticeable decline in reservation rates as potential customers have exercised more caution due to ongoing economic uncertainty, a slower secondary market and a softening of pricing, particularly in the South East.'





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