Vistry tipped as ‘buy’ as stockbroker eyes margin improvement

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Vistry Group PLC (LSE:VTY) (LON:VTE), the builder formerly known as Bovis, surprised the City with yet another upgrade to earnings forecasts driven by profit margin improvements and accelerating growth of its partnerships.


The shares were up 3.5% in mid-afternoon trade to 1,259p as analysts revisited their spreadsheets.


Investors, meanwhile, took a second look at the stock, which is currently trading on a bargain-basement forward net profit multiple of eight times and is yielding a chunky 6.2%.


“We like Vistry for the margin recovery in housebuilding and the potential growth in partnerships, which should be driven by very strong demand from partners against limited competition,” said Liberum in a note to clients.


“Partnerships should grow faster under Vistry’s ownership as it is no longer balance sheet constrained.”


The broker is a ‘buyer’ of the stock up to 1,530p a share. Peel Hunt, also restated its ‘buy’ advice with a target of 1,410p. UBS has bumped its earnings forecast up 5%.


Earlier, the FTSE 250-housebuilder, raised its profit guidance for the current year and said that so far rising house prices have offset higher raw material costs.


Adjusted profit before tax in 2021 is now expected to be around GBP345mln said the group or around 5% ahead of current consensus expectations.


Second-half trading has started well, it added, with the private forward sales position now worth GBP2.1bn or equal to 96% of the expected total for the year.


The Partnership forward order book totals GBP890mln, also around 96% of forecast 2021n revenue secured.


Vistry added it has full visibility on material requirements out to the end of 2021 and an agreed supply programme in place.


Pre-tax profits in the six months to end June 2021 rebounded to GBP156mln (2020 loss: GBP12.2mln) while revenues rose 82% to GBP1.1bn.


Completions in total rose by 7% to 5,351 units.


Greg Fitzgerald, chief executive, added: “Housebuilding delivered a significant improvement in margin in H1 and we expect this to continue, whilst Vistry Partnerships is firmly on track to deliver more than GBP1bn of revenue in FY 22 and a margin in excess of 10%, driven by the accelerated growth of its higher-margin mixed tenure revenues.”


Vistry had cash of GBP32mln at the year-end compared with debt of GBP357mln a year ago with that cash pile expected to have risen to GBP225mln by the end of 2021.


The interim dividend has also been restored at 20p and going forward the policy will be for the payment to be two times covered by earnings with a special dividend and buybacks for any surplus cash.

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