June 24, 2020 / 6:37 AM / 10 days ago

Crest Nicholson forecasts steep fall in annual profit as pandemic hits

(Reuters) - British homebuilder Crest Nicholson (CRST.L) on Wednesday posted a first-half pretax loss and said it expects annual adjusted pretax profit to fall around 60% to 70% due to coronavirus-led disruptions.

The company, which builds houses and flats across the southern half of England and the Midlands, expects annual adjusted pretax profit to be between 35 million pounds to 45 million pounds, against 121.1 million pounds reported in 2019.

“We cannot ignore the risks that COVID-19 presents to the UK housing market even if we cannot predict with certainty what the impact of those risks will be,” said Chief Executive Officer Peter Truscott in a statement.

He said the company would delay the planned opening of another division and was targeting further reductions in costs.

To cope with the health crisis and shore up its finances, Crest had scrapped its dividend, furloughed three-quarters of its staff and secured a 300 million pound credit from a government scheme since the pandemic took hold.

It said it would reinstate its dividend “when appropriate”.

Crest Nicholson reported first-half pretax loss of 51.2 million pounds compared with a profit of 64.4 million pounds a year earlier. The company said it expects second-half profit to be significantly higher than the first half’s.

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

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