StockMarketWire.com - Homebuilder Berkeley said it anticipated a more even split of profit between the first and second halves of the year, following better-than-expected levels of production and robust pricing. This had been supported by the demand for properties in under-supplied markets, good mortgage availability and the government's temporary removal of stamp duty for the first £500,000 of sales value and the announcement of a brief extension to the current help to buy scheme, the company said. The value of underlying sales reservations for the first four months of the year was around 20% below the annualised run rate for last year, which was supportive of forward sales remaining around the year-end position of above £1.8bn. Looking ahead, the company maintained guidance of £500 million of pre-tax profit for the full year and its commitment to its shareholder returns programme of £280 million per annum. 'We remain very mindful of the current volatility and the risks this presents to the UK and global economies as they come to terms with the longer term impact of COVID-19, including once current Government support tapers and in the event of a severe second wave of the virus,' the company said. 'We are also conscious of the risks around the UK's departure from the European Union at the end of 2020,' it added.

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