Persimmon has posted a 50 per cent leap in its profits before tax in the year to 31 December 2013 and set out plans to ramp up shareholder returns.
Profit before tax stood at £323m for 2013, compared to £215.4m for the same period in 2012.
With exceptional items taken into account, profit before tax stood at £337m for 2013 compared, to £218.2m for the same period in 2012.
Exceptional items included a change in land values and predictions on future sales.
The group said increased demand and growing business had generated £231m in shareholder returns, enabling the group to accelerate paybacks.
The first shareholder instalment of 75p per share was paid on 28 June 2013, with the next instalment of 70p per share planned for 4 July 2014 – one of three additional instalments within its original payback schedule.
Legal completions rose by 16 per cent to 11,528 in 2013 compared with 9,903 for the same period in 2012, with an average selling price increase of 4 per cent to £181,861 – up from £175,640 the year before.
Persimmon group chairman Nicholas Wrigley said: “Persimmon achieved a strong result for the year as we responded quickly to the increased customer demand that resulted from improved mortgage lending, the introduction of Help to Buy in April 2013 and the increase in consumer confidence as the UK returned to more meaningful economic growth.
“Our success in increasing build rates significantly in response, with second half volumes 30 per cent ahead of those in the first six months, underpinned a robust overall performance.”
The group will continue its focus on the development of strategic land with 33 per cent of replacement land converted from its strategic land portfolio.
Persimmon’s landbank now stands at 74,407 plots, representing 6.5 years of supply, after it acquired 17,735 additional plots in 2013.
Return on average capital employed (earnings before interest and tax/capital employed) rose by 44 per cent to 17.6 per cent in 2013, compared with 12.2 per cent in 2012.
Mr Wrigley added: “2013 was a year of excellent progress against our strategic plan and the strong growth of the business has underpinned an acceleration of the capital return plan.
“The group entered 2014 with a very strong forward order book and the early weeks of the spring selling season have been encouraging, with our weekly private sales rate per site being 22 per cent ahead of last year for the first eight weeks.
“We anticipate a further year of encouraging sales growth in 2014.”
Forward sales stood at £1.4bn on 24 February 2014, compared with £1bn in the year to 31 December 2013, representing a 41 per cent increase.