Sheffield’s Henry Boot says profit to beat expectations

Shares of Sheffield-based property investment and construction group Henry Boot plc rose about 5% on Tuesday after it published a trading update for the year ended December 31, 2021, saying it expects profit before tax to be “materially ahead of market expectations” of £30.7 million profit before tax.

“The group’s three key markets — industrial & logistics, residential and urban development — have all performed well, helping the business make good progress against its strategic objectives,” said Henry Boot.

“In total, the group invested over £66m into new opportunities within these markets, in line with its growth aspirations.

“The group’s solid financial position remains intact, with a robust balance sheet and net debt of c.£44m, comfortably within the targeted operating gearing range of 10-20%.

“Hallam Land Management (HLM) performed materially ahead of expectations, driven by strong demand from housebuilders for residential land.

“HLM added over 1,000 acres to its land bank, which has the potential to deliver c7,600 plots, increasing its total land portfolio to over 92,500 plots (2020: 88,070).

“In addition, HLM submitted a planning application for 3,100 plots, commercial development, and a primary school before the year end, in Bicester.

“Henry Boot Developments (HBD) completed on developments with a Gross Development Value (GDV) of £298m (HBD share £68m, 2020: HBD share £58m) and continues to build up its committed development pipeline in line with its strategic objective as a result of strong industrial occupier demand.

“In 2021, HBD made further acquisitions including Welwyn Garden City (£20m GDV), which is set to deliver 71,000 sq ft of industrial warehouse space, a 20-acre industrial site in Rainham, London (£24m GDV HBD Share) and a significant build to rent scheme in the centre of Birmingham (£110m GDV).

“HBD has also been selected as preferred bidder to deliver a 200-acre scheme at Cheltenham Borough Council’s Golden Valley Development, which is expected to create 12,000 new jobs, 3,700 new homes and 2m sq ft of commercial space.

“The value of the investment portfolio has continued to grow following the acquisition of two industrial sites with medium term development potential in Skelmersdale and Manchester and the completion of industrial developments at Wakefield and Enfield as well as benefitting from valuation gains significantly ahead of expectations.

“Stonebridge Homes (SBH) completed on 120 units (2020: 115 units) in a buoyant housing market and achieved a sales rate of 0.83 units per site per week (2020: 0.90).

“The owned and controlled land bank now stands at 1,157 plots (2020: 1,119 plots) of which 912 plots (2020: 657 plots) have either detailed or outline planning permission, an improvement led by a recent acquisition at Armthorpe, Doncaster, which has detailed permission to deliver 232 plots.

“Overall, the land bank provides 5.7 years supply based on a one-year rolling forward sales forecast.

“At the beginning of 2022, SBH has secured 68% of its annual delivery target of 204 units for 2022.

“The group’s strategic objective to grow this business to building 600 units per year remains firmly on track.

“Henry Boot Construction performed well throughout 2021, and after securing a £47m urban development scheme, the Cocoa Works in York, during H2 2021, has secured 100% of its orderbook for 2022.

“Banner Plant is trading above pre-CV-19 levels and is experiencing strong demand due to the positive performance of the UK housing and construction markets.”

In its outlook, the company said: “Looking ahead, Henry Boot enters 2022 in good shape, with a robust balance sheet, strong momentum within the group’s operations and a healthy store of opportunities secured in its three key markets, leaving the group confident of further progress in the year.”