I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I believe the UK’s decision to vote for Brexit was a mistake of epic proportions. We’ve sent a signal out to the rest of Europe that we don’t want to be their friend, but we would still like to enjoy the benefits of being part of the European fraternity. That’s not going to happen, and I fear our economy will suffer in the long run.
Not a great start
Theresa May and her team of negotiators have a tough job on their hands. And let’s not forget, our Prime Minister was part of the Remain camp, which makes it extra difficult for her to negotiate terms for a policy she didn’t agree with in the first place. Not a great start I’m afraid.
Retailers are already feeling the effects of lower consumer confidence and a weaker currency. Deny it all you will, but as a nation we are heavily reliant on foreign produce, and the fall in the value of the pound has made imports all the more expensive for our businesses and their customers. Retailers in particular will no doubt be at the sharp end of economic uncertainty, but post-referendum wobbles aside, our housebuilders have so far proved to be quite resilient despite being largely UK-focused and highly cyclical.
More than a year on from the referendum, our leading housebuilders are still doing plenty of business, churning out shed-loads of profit, and paying out very generous dividends. Take Persimmon (LSE: PSN) for example. The FTSE 100-listed developer last month announced a very positive set of results for the first half of the year, with customer interest remaining strong through both its websites and traditional sales outlets.
During the first six months of 2017, the York-based group delivered a 30% increase in pre-tax profits to £457.4m, compared to £352.3m for the same period a year earlier. Total group revenues came in 12% higher at £1.66bn, with legal completions up 8% on the previous year at 7,794, and the average selling price rising 4% to £213,262.. Management also reaffirmed its commitment to return surplus cash of at least 110p per share to shareholders each July until 2021.
That doesn’t sound like a housing market that’s overly concerned about Brexit to me, and yet the company’s valuation tells a different story. Investors’ hesitation has left the shares trading on a bargain valuation of just 11 times forward earnings, and offering a chunky dividend yield of 5%.
A cheeky little glimpse
It’s a similar story over at mid-cap rival Bellway (LSE: BWY). The FTSE 250-listed firm isn’t expected to announce its FY2017 results until mid-October, but last month’s trading update gave us a cheeky little glimpse into the future.
The Newcastle-based residential property developer now expects housing revenue to increase by over 13% to £2.5bn, with the number of housing completions expected to grow by 10.6% to 9,644. The group also boasts an excellent forward sales position with a 16% rise in the value of the forward order book to £1.3bn, compared to £1.12bn in fiscal 2016.
With a forecast P/E ratio of just eight and a solid dividend yield of around 4%, I believe Bellway could be a shrewd purchase, despite the heightened risk that now comes with the UK housebuilding sector.
Bilaal Mohamed has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.