London-focused builder and developer Berkeley Group
Pretax profit in the six months to Oct 31 was 101.1 million pounds, helped by a one-off boost of 30.7 million pounds from selling a stake in an accommodation project, and compared to the 61.6 million it made in the same period last year.
Berkeley, renowned for its savvy London land buys, said its operating profit excluding the stake sale rose 30 percent to 76.4 million pounds after it sold 21 percent more homes in the period.
Looking forward, the further increase in forward sales and the strong balance sheet, which remains ungeared, means Berkeley is increasingly well positioned to capitalise on the current market conditions, Chairman Tony Pidgley said in a statement on Friday.
Berkeley said it was confident on its ability to deliver a new dividend strategy announced in June under which it plans to return 1.7 billion pounds in cash to shareholders over the next 10 years.
It added, however, that the first pay-out was unlikely to come earlier than the 2015 target due to ongoing investment in new projects.
Shares in Berkeley Group closed at 1,267 pence on Thursday, valuing the FTSE 250 firm at 1.6 billion pounds.
(Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Matt Scuffham)