Persimmon accelerates dividend after in-line start

House builder Persimmon has reported a good first 15 weeks of the year in line with expectations and announced an acceleration of its planned dividend payment strategy.

House builder Persimmon has reported a good first 15 weeks of the year in line with expectations and announced an acceleration of its planned dividend payment strategy.

Ahead of its annual general meeting (AGM) on Thursday, where Chief Executive Mike Farley is scheduled to be officially succeeded by Group Managing Director Jeff Fairburn, Persimmon revealed weekly private sales per site were roughly 4.0% ahead of the previous comparable period.

The group said its current total forward sales, including legal completions already achieved for the current year, stood at £1.38bn, 11% ahead of the prior year.

Levels of enquiries were being aided by the new "Help to Buy" schemes announced in Chancellor George Osborne's recent budget, with website registrations up from 24% to 30% since the announcement.

Persimmon, Britain's largest housebuilder by market cap, added that a 10p-per-share dividend previously planned for 2015 was to be brought forward a year, if agreed at the AGM.

The group confirmed that this was due to it being ahead of its initial projections in delivering its stated long term strategy, and that is had decided to accelerate the plan to return £1.9bn, or £6.20 per share, of capital to shareholders over a nine and a half year period.

Subject to shareholder approval at a general meeting to be held immediately after its AGM, the first payment of the plan of 75p per share was due to be paid to shareholders on June 28th 2013, with the shares going ex-entitlement from April 22nd 2013.

Shares in Persimmon were up 2.4% at £11.32p at 9.40am on Thursday.

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