McCarthy & Stone shares hit after profit warning
The group said earnings are set to fall amid a sales slowdown caused by Brexit uncertainty and revealed that its chief executive will leave in August.
Retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone has seen shares tumble after it warned over full-year earnings and said its boss will leave in August.
Shares in the group dropped 15% after it said it was now braced for lower-than-expected profits for the year to August 31 after a slowdown in sales reservations amid uncertainty caused by Brexit and weaker property prices.
Chief executive Clive Fenton will also leave the group on August 31 as he said it needs to “embark on a new strategy to carry it safely through the next five years and beyond”.
The company has launched the search for his successor.
Shares also fell across the wider housebuilding sector after McCarthy’s alert, with Charles Church group Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Developments and Berkeley all in the red.
McCarthy revealed that it now expects full-year completed sales to fall by up to 9% – to between 2,100 and 2,300, down from 2,302 the previous year.
It said there had been a marked slowdown in demand during the key spring selling season.
“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,” said McCarthy.
The Bournemouth-based group warned that the drop in sales was set to see full-year operating profit fall to between £65 million and £80 million.
This compares with earnings of £96 million the previous year and analyst expectations of £105.5 million.
The group must embark on a new strategy to carry it safely through the next five years and beyond Outgoing McCarthy & Stone chief Clive Fenton
The group’s forward order book, including legal completions, currently stands at £706 million, up from £639 million the previous year, but lower than the group expected.
Outgoing boss Mr Fenton said: “Unfortunately, since Brexit, in the absence of any government support and now with the additional challenges posed to the business by the proposed ban on ground rents, it is clear that the group must embark on a new strategy to carry it safely through the next five years and beyond.
“Having reached the age of 60, it is right that I now stand aside at the end of our financial year to enable a new chief executive to be responsible for this journey.”
McCarthy chairman Paul Lester launched a strategy review in April.
Plans so far include cost-cutting and aims to rein in rising build costs, with the group also slowing down house completions to focus on profit margins and improving its return on capital employed.
It will report back with a further update in September.
McCarthy’s stock price took a hefty blow last year – dropping 8% on December 21 – after warning over a potential hit from a Government crackdown on unnecessary leaseholds and ground rent charges.
The stock has since remained under pressure.