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Persimmon - H1 in line with expectations, no change to guidance

Persimmon saw a 30% drop in first-half revenue to £1.2bn.

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Persimmon saw a 30% drop in first-half revenue to £1.2bn. The decline was largely due to the 36% drop in completions to 4,249, partly offset by a 4% increase in average selling prices as it sold a larger proportion of bigger homes.

Incentives and deals helped sales rates remain broadly stable over the half, yet they are still down 35% compared to last year.

Lower revenue and a 22% rise in costs meant underlying operating profit fell 65% to £152m, in line with expectations. Free cash outflows totalled £298m and net cash of £345m had more than halved year-on-year.

The current forward sales position of $1.6bn is 30% lower than last year. Stable cancellation rates mean the group's confident enough to confirm full-year guidance of at least 9,000 completions, at the upper end of the previous range.

The board has proposed a dividend of 20p.

The shares rose 4.8% in early trading.

View the latest Persimmon share price and how to deal

Our view

Despite the difficult trading backdrop, Persimmon's reiterated full year guidance. Even adding a little nugget on top by expecting completions to come in at or above the top end of the guidance range. Sales rates look to have stabilised over the half which is positive, though of course they are significantly lower than last year given the broader environment.

That's led Persimmon to pull back on investing in new land - something we expect to continue across the year as the group sharpens its focus on preserving cash.

On that topic. The dividend was cut last year and is expected to remain rebased at its current level, which suggests 60p in total for the full year. If that remains stable into next year too, that'd put the current forward yield at around 5.2%, a little lower than markets are currently anticipating. Of course, no dividends are ever guaranteed.

Analyst consensus suggests a 39% potential fall in revenues this year, though we see scope for a little upside to that if completions can accelerate over the second half. And factoring in the cocktail of headwinds, operating margins are expected to fall from 26% to 16%. That's not wonderful, but housebuilders are cyclical businesses that go through periods of ups and downs. And as Persimmon's houses are typically cheaper than the UK average, its selling prices may prove slightly more resilient than some competitors.

Persimmon has a strong balance sheet with industry-leading margins, which should help weather the coming change in cycle. There are also the in-house materials businesses, which we see as a key differentiator. This vertical integration gives quick and cheaper access to key materials. For example, 55% of the bricks use are sourced in house, giving a £2,000 saving per plot. That's a key advantage when inflation's running hot.

We also see reasons to remain positive on the long-term fundamentals of the UK housing market. The nation faces a housing shortage, all major political parties are committed to further housebuilding, and mortgage markets look to be stabilising to some degree. House price rises might stagnate in the years ahead, but Persimmon has the land to hike volumes when the market does turn.

Given the pressures, it's not surprising to see the valuation below its longer-term average. Broadly speaking, it's trading at a premium to the average of its peers, which we see as a reflection of underlying strengths. The real question is, how well can Persimmon weather the current storm. For now, the group looks to be in as robust position as it could be.

Persimmon key facts

All ratios are sourced from Refinitiv. Please remember yields are variable and not a reliable indicator of future income. Keep in mind key figures shouldn't be looked at on their own - it's important to understand the big picture.

This article is original Hargreaves Lansdown content, published by Hargreaves Lansdown. It was correct as at the date of publication, and our views may have changed since then. Unless otherwise stated estimates, including prospective yields, are a consensus of analyst forecasts provided by Refinitiv. These estimates are not a reliable indicator of future performance. Yields are variable and not guaranteed. Investments rise and fall in value so investors could make a loss.

This article is not advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any investment. No view is given on the present or future value or price of any investment, and investors should form their own view on any proposed investment. This article has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication. Non-independent research is not subject to FCA rules prohibiting dealing ahead of research, however HL has put controls in place (including dealing restrictions, physical and information barriers) to manage potential conflicts of interest presented by such dealing. Please see our full non-independent research disclosure for more information.

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Written by
Matt Britzman
Equity Analyst

Matt is an Equity Analyst on the share research team, providing up-to-date research and analysis on individual companies and wider sectors.

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Article history
Published: 10th August 2023