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Aug. 18, 2020, 2:40 a.m. EDT

Persimmon profit tumbles 43%, declares dividend

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By Joe Hoppe

Persimmon PLC on Tuesday reported a 43% fall in pretax profit for the first half of the year, as higher average house prices were offset by a fall in the number of homes sold amid the pandemic, and declared a dividend.

The U.K. house builder posted a pretax profit of 292.4 million pounds ($383.2 million) for the six months ended June 30, down from GBP509.3 million in the year-earlier period, due to build delays caused by the U.K.'s countrywide lockdown. Revenue for the period fell to GBP1.19 billion, from GBP1.75 billion for the same period last year, Persimmon said.

During the first six months of the year, the average new home selling price rose to GBP225,066 from GBP216,942, but the number of homes sold fell to 4,900 units from 7,584 units in the same period last year, the company said.

The board declared a dividend of 40 pence a share, having cancelled earlier interim dividends.

Persimmon said its housing sales surged in the second half of the year, with the average weekly private sales rate from July 1 to date rising 49% year-on-year.

The company said it had a strong forward sales position in the first half of the year, with GBP2.48 billion in forward sales, along with strong liquidity, with current cash of GBP821 million.

Write to Joe Hoppe at joseph.hoppe@wsj.com

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