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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 11:08 GMT
Tough year to erode Wimpey profit
A wall being built
Wimpey is more optimistic for 2006
Housebuilder George Wimpey expects profits for 2005 to be towards the lower end of market forecasts after a brittle year for the industry.

Profits are expected to fall to 380m ($667m) in 2005, down from 450m.

The number of properties it completed last year fell 1% on the year, with an average selling price down 4% on the previous year.

However, it reported "some firming" in the house market at the end of last year, particularly in the south.

A recent survey from the Chartered Institute for Purchasing and Supply showed construction growth slowing to its weakest rate in seven months in December.

Rivals upbeat

However, a couple of Wimpey's rivals have reported a more stable market.

On Thursday, Redrow said sales in the last six months had risen 12% on the year, while Galliford Try also reported a marked improvement during the same period.

Despite struggling in its home market, Wimpey said its Morrison Homes business in the US had built on another record year for the country's property market.

In the US division average selling prices were 7% stronger than 2004, it said.

Wimpey is the UK's third largest housebuilder behind Barratt and Persimmon.




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