Despite Barratt Developments (BDEV) issuing guidance for annual profit to be higher than expected and to hit record levels, investors are seemingly unimpressed with the housebuilder.

The shares surrendering earlier gains to trade a smidge lower at 576.2p.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould says: ‘The muted market reaction to today’s news suggests some scepticism over the company’s ability to build on this achievement (of a record profit) and could also reflect the fact that the better than expected performance is seemingly flattered by a large one-off sale to a joint venture partner.

‘Barratt’s profitability is improving as it dials down exposure to a tricky London market, but it is worth noting that its margins are still running behind most of its peers.’

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The company’s operating margin is expected to increase from 17.7% to 18.9%. Pre-tax profit is expected to be ahead of market expectations at around £910m, up from £835.5m last year, driven by 'continued strong progress from margin initiatives, a strong close to the year and additional contribution from joint ventures,' the company says.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Aynsley Lammin is apparently more impressed than the market, commenting that the group is ‘in a strong position and continues to drive a structural improvement in margins’ and adding that Barratt is ‘performing well relative to its peers’.

Shore Capital’s Robin Hardy is more sceptical. He says: ‘There is no dramatic turnaround here or the likelihood of some strong move opposite to the peer group. The macro situation is weakening and the house builders can be expected, largely, to move at the same direction at the same time.’

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Issue Date: 10 Jul 2019