Market report

Taylor Wimpey slumps | Halfords profits warning

Taylor Wimpey says it remains upbeat (pic: Terry Murden)

Taylor Wimpey issued a positive outlook despite seeing a 42.8% slump in pre-tax profits for the year to the end of December to £473.8 million from £827.9m in the previous 12 months.

The number of home completions (including JVs) fell to 10,848 (2022: 14,154) as the group came into 2024 with a lower order book against a strong comparator.

As at 25 February, the total order book excluding joint ventures was £1.949 billion (2023: £2.154bn), comprising 7,402 homes (2023: 8,078 homes).

Chief executive Jennie Daly said: “We delivered a good full year performance in line with expectations despite a challenging market.

“It is still early in the year and the macroeconomic backdrop remains uncertain, however it is encouraging to see some signs of improvement in the market, with reduced mortgage rates positively impacting affordability and customer confidence.

“While the planning environment remains challenging, we have a high-quality, well-invested landbank and a strong financial position which underpins our ability to provide investors with a reliable income stream via our differentiated Ordinary Dividend Policy.

“Looking ahead we are well-positioned in an attractive market, with significant underlying demand for our quality homes and are poised for growth from 2025, assuming supportive market conditions.”

Shares fell 6.7p (-4.77%) to 133.85p.

Direct Line

Motor and home insurer Direct Line has rejected a £3.1 billion takeover bid that sent the insurer’s shares up by nearly a quarter.

The FTSE 250 motor and home insurance business, founded by Sir Peter Wood in the 1980s, received the cash and paper offer from Belgian firm Ageas last month. Full story here

Halfords profit warning

Shares in Halfords, the cycling and motoring accessories retailer, plunged by more than a quarter after it issued a profit warning, saying three of its four “core markets” have “ seen a further material weakening”.

It now expects annual profit for the financial year ending 29 March of between £35m and £40m, down from previous forecasts of £48m and £53m. 

The company blamed “a combination of continued weak customer confidence and unusually mild and very wet weather,” which reduced footfall into stores and sales of winter products. 

It added: “Whilst we have reduced our profit guidance as a result of very challenging and exceptional short-term market conditions, we remain confident in our strategy and longer-term growth prospects.

“When our core markets recover, the platform we have built leaves us exceptionally well-placed to succeed.”

Shares closed 147.1p (26.67%) lower at 147.1p.

St James’s Place

Investors checked out of wealth manager St James’s Place after it announced a huge provision for client redress and slashed its dividend. Shares were down by a third in early trade before closing 115.2p (18.55%) lower at 505.8p. Full story here.

Aston Martin

Aston Martin Lagonda pre-tax losses narrowed to £172m last year from £451m in 2022, beating market expectations following a rise in showroom prices.

Analysts, on average, were expecting an adjusted pre-tax loss of £209m for the period, according to a company-compiled consensus.

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