Bovis Homes has announced record profits - the seventh consecutive year of profit growth since the group's flotation in 1997.
Company pretax profits for last year, higher than analysts had anticipated, increased by 18.0 per cent to #145.2 million.
A final dividend of 13.6p was declared - making 20.0p for the year. Chief executive Malcolm Harris was upbeat about results and future prospects.
He said: "We expect to double our dividend over the next four years, having increased it by 22 per cent this year."
He added: "Going forward, high levels of employment and increases in earnings above
retail-price inflation provide a good economic base. We expect to start work this year on a major 450 home development in Great Barr, at a former hospital site."
Turnover was #559.5 million - increasing from #478.4 million - with housing accounting for #534.4 million.
The increase in housing turnover was primarily due to an 8.8 per cent rise in completions to 2,700 units compared with 2,482 in 2003 and a jump in average sales price of 7.1 per cent to # 197,900 compared with #184,700 in 2003.
The company reported that the first six months of 2004 witnessed a strong demand stimulated by a combination of increased employment, average earnings improvements and low-interest rates.
The second half year was adversely affected by increased interest rates and negative comments relating to the housing market made by both the media and the Bank of England. Bovis' shares closed at 694p down 11/2p.