The Property Investor News (PIN) Fund, a fictional fund of 10 property-related shares created almost six years ago, performed well in Q2, returning 12.9%, which was slightly better than the FTSE 100 rise of 11.2%. Of course, comparing any performance to Q1 was always going to be an easy win, considering what a disastrous quarter that was thanks to an almost global lockdown being introduced.
Fortunately, the decision to buy into the dip with unused cash profits (from the Zoopla de-listing in 2018) at the end of Q1, appears to have been well-timed as the share prices for the house builders that we bought more shares in - Barratt Developments, Taylor Wimpey and Bellway - increased by 17.4% on average in the second quarter.
On 9 June, Bellway released an update in respect of the ongoing actions taken by the business in response to the evolving situation presented by COVID-19. It reported that construction activity has recommenced at around 230 sites, with a focus on those homes that are in the latter stages of production. Viewings at sales offices are limited to single family groups and are on an appointment only basis.
The balance sheet remains strong at Bellway, with net bank debt of only £157m on 31 May (down from £261m a year earlier). The forward sales position is substantial, with an order book comprising of more than 6,000 homes (down only 5% on a year earlier) and a total value of £1,568m. This, together with Bellway’s responsible site re-opening programme, should enable the Group to preserve its strong liquidity position in the months ahead.
Jason Honeyman, chief executive at Bellway, commented: “With regards to restarting the housing market, we have carefully and gradually recommenced onsite construction and sales activity in England and Wales, whilst introducing strict social distancing requirements. This measured approach has enabled us to continue serving our customers and has facilitated the safe return to work for many of our employees.”