This week’s positive results from Bellway (LSE: BWY) provide yet more evidence that house building could be the place to be. Indeed, the company reported that its forward order book has risen by 36% due to an improved macroeconomic outlook and increased consumer demand.
Clearly, there is tremendous growth potential in the house building sector. That’s because there is a huge mismatch between the number of houses demanded in the UK (particularly in the south east) and the number of homes being built. Indeed, the UK is so far behind in terms of house building that it seems the likes of Bellway, Persimmon and Redrow will have little difficulty in selling houses for many years to come, barring a severe recession of course.
Furthermore, the macroeconomic outlook continues to improve. The UK economy is among the fastest growing developed economies in the world and, with interest rates set to stay low for a good while yet, there could be a house building boom in the pipeline.
However, when it comes to shorter term growth prospects, Bellway seems to lead the field. That’s because it is forecast to grow its bottom line by a whopping 67% this year. Certainly, Persimmon and Redrow are not far behind, with growth forecasts of 37% (Persimmon) and 64% (Redrow) expected in the current year. However, Bellway appears to be the fastest growing of the three at present, which could attract investors who subsequently bid up the price of the company’s shares.
Top Notch Value
Despite strong growth prospects, Bellway trades at a low valuation. For instance, its price to earnings (P/E) ratio is just 9.9. That’s 25% lower than the FTSE 100’s P/E of 13.2 and compares favourably to Persimmon, which has a P/E of 10.7 although Redrow goes one better as it has a P/E of just 9. Clearly there is superb value across the sector, with Bellway losing out slightly to its smaller peer, Redrow.
Where Bellway makes the ground back up though is in terms of dividend yield. That’s because it currently yields a hugely impressive 3.3% and, in addition, the dividend per share is forecast to grow by a whopping 25% next year, as strong earnings growth allows the company to raise distributions to shareholders.
Although Persimmon’s yield of 6.2% is much higher, its dividends are set to be unevenly spaced out and, as such, Bellway may offer a more consistent income stream for investors. Meanwhile, Redrow is some way behind its two peers on a yield of 1.6%, although it clearly has the potential to raise dividends due to its previously mentioned strong growth prospects.
With earnings growth that beats its two rivals, Bellway appears to be the most attractive growth play of the three house builders. Certainly, Redrow offers better value, but its yield is less than half that of Bellway, while Persimmon offers a higher yield but less value. Overall, Bellway appears to be the most consistent of the three and, although they all appear to be well worth buying, Bellway could prove to be the best performer moving forward.
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Peter Stephens owns shares in Bellway and Persimmon.