St Modwen Properties confident after strong profits and exceptional start to 2004

St Modwen Properties plc said it is confident of another year of record results ahead after the year to Nov 30 2003 turned in strong profits and net asset value.

The regeneration specialist today reported a pretax profit for the year to end-Nov of 35 mln stg, up from 30 mln a year earlier. Earnings per share were up 18 pct at 20.1 pence.

The group ended the year with net assets per share up 16 pct to 186.0 pence from 160.9 pence. The group´s corporate objective remains to double net asset value per share every five years.

After a final payout of 4.4 pence per share, up from 3.8 pence, the total dividend for the year was 6.6 pence, up from 5.7 pence.

Chairman Sir Stanley Clarke, who is due to retire at the forthcoming AGM, said the company´s current financial year has started exceptionally well with a total of over 20 mln stg of property profits already completed or under contract.

'I, therefore, look forward with confidence to St Modwen achieving its twelfth consecutive record year.'

Clarke confirmed that he will pass the chairmanship on to Anthony Glossop, currently deputy chairman and chief executive, 'with great confidence for the company´s future'.

Bill Oliver will succeed him as chief executive.

Clarke will remain on the board as a non-executive director and has been invited to become life president.

Turning to the year under review, Clarke said the results include a 38 pct growth in net rental income, a 5 pct growth in property profits and a 14.5 mln stg revaluation uplift on the investment property portfolio. The board continues to have total confidence in the company´s strategy of adding value through active management and regeneration in specialised areas of property expertise via a network of regional offices, Clarke said.

He said the group was again successful in adding to its development portfolio -- referred to by the companty as 'the hopper' -- including major acquisitions at Avonmouth, Kirkby and Longbridge. Additionally, it has been successful in being selected as preferred developer by several more local authorities and regional development agencies.

The total estate continues to expand, which underpins the company´s long-term future profitability.

In further comment, Glossop updated on the group´s involvement in the redevelopment of Brighton West Pier. Uncertainty on future costs and delays caused the Heritage Lottery Fund to withdraw their support in January 2004. Without this support, the project is not viable. Glossop said that, although the company still intends to see whether there is any possibility of resuscitating the scheme, it has made full provision in these accounts for all costs incurred.

Glossop also confirmed that St Modwen has been selected as the preferred development partner by Bedford Borough Council for a comprehensive renewal and redevelopment of Bedford´s bus station area comprising a new food supermarket, a department store, additional retail, leisure and residential uses; and by South West Regional Development Agency for a 33-acre industrial development at Ludgershall, Wiltshire.

Looking ahead, Glossop said that beyond 2004, the group is marshalling the progress of the major schemes in the hopper to meet the growth required. Significant progress is expected to be made during 2004 on town centre schemes at Edmonton, Farnborough and Wembley; a factory outlet scheme and superstore at Walsall and the heritage and leisure development at Trentham Gardens, Stoke-on-Trent.

He said these and numerous other schemes currently being worked on will form the backbone of the group´s development programme for 2005 and onwards.

Source: Freeman

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