MAISONS FRANCE CONFORT : First half 2008 results - New strategic acquisition - Resisting well in a difficult market

le
0
Consolidated - ¤m 1st half-year
2008
1st half-year
2007
Sales 268.4 248.5
Operating income
Operating margin
16.5
(6.2%)
18.0
(7.2%)
Financial income 0.4 0.5
Net group income
Net group margin
11.0
(4.1%)
12.2
(4.9%)

Sound financial performance in a difficult environment

In a difficult current environment with a marked slow down in the construction market and even though the 1st half of 2007 is high basis for comparison, the Group maintained good profitability with a net income that came out at 11.0 M¤ or 4.1% of turnover.

The Group's gross margin remained generally stable. However, the operating income over the period is affected by the following items:

A delay in production linked to large slippages in construction site opening caused by: A lengthening of the delays in obtaining building permits following the difficult introduction of the reform, A lengthening of the time to make available for customers sites reserved from developers; the banks requiring a higher reservation rate than previously from the latter, which leads to the issue of new loan offers at higher rates and a risk of increase in cancellations, A lengthening of the time to obtain bridging loans for second time buyers often obliged to wait for the sale of their property. The large retail investments that continued in the 1st half of 2008 as part of the Group's move into the Nord Pas-de Calais region and from the continuation of the Maisons Performances launch. These have generated additional commercial expenses that have not yet been compensated by production taking into account the 9-month delay between taking an order and the start of works. These budgeted investments have allowed the sales objectives to be achieved. An increase in publicity expenses and the introduction of new retail media (internet site partnerships) needed to maintain our retail activity in difficult conditions.

At 30 June 2008, the balance sheet structure is very solid (available cash 64 M¤, net cash 22 M¤) and gives the Group the means to view the future with serenity and confirm itself as the centre for regroupings in a concentrating sector.

Acquisition of Maisons Bernard JAMBERT and MARC JUNIOR

On 11 September 2008, under suspensive conditions, MAISONS FRANCE CONFORT acquired the Maisons Bernard JAMBERT company with effect from 1st July 2008. An individual house builder, present in Maine et Loire and the Sarthe, this company has the benefit of a good reputation and excellent financial performance. In 2007 Maisons Bernard JAMBERT achieved:

A 12.3 M¤ turnover, A 1.202 M¤ operating income, A 6.9% net margin.

Its balance sheet structure is very healthy with 2.4 M¤ consolidated capital and net cash of 2.3 M¤.

The current manager, Monsieur Bernard JAMBERT will continue to assist the Group in providing sites and in approaches to local authorities for housing for 15 ¤ per day.

Olivier POCHOLLE, Managing Director, will take over the role of Chairman during January 2009.

This new external growth allows MAISONS FRANCE CONFORT to strengthen its presence in a region where demand is high and it was not yet present. 

Confirmed solidity and strength

To face up to a more difficult current environment caused on the one hand by the banking crisis and on the other by household's loss of solvency and reduction in moral (oil shock and rise in inflation), MAISONS FRANCE CONFORT has solid characteristics that give it great strength:

Backed up by Groupe Caisses d'Epargne since March 2008, MAISONS FRANCE CONFORT benefits from the support of a financial partner, a major player in access to property. Important retail synergies are progressively being introduced throughout France. Having strongly anticipated buyer's problems, the Group has a commercial proposition and price position that respond to all types of customer, notably first time buyers, a segment where demand remains strong, with a new offer  (the OPEN and Maisons Performances range). With the strength of a retail network comprising 256 sales points covering the 19 most buoyant French regions, the group continues to gain market share and outperform the sector (orders at the end of July: - 1.3% in number, - 1,6% in value). Its financial solidity allows it to pursue a planned strategy of high quality external growth and takeovers of projects from failed builders to compensate the market slowdown. Unlike promoters, the Group manages very little stock. The preservation of its profitability is ensured by 18 months visibility, variability in structure costs (only 11% of fixed costs) and high reactivity (management background).

In the current market environment, Maisons France Confort gives greater importance to its financial performance than to a forced march external growth policy. This is why the Group General Management has decided to defer two large acquisitions that should have been completed in September 2008.
Taking these new factors into consideration, the Group aims for an increase of the order of 5% in its 2008 turnover for operating income close to that recorded for the 1st half year.

In a market that will inevitably rebound, because it is structurally buoyant, MAISONS FRANCE CONFORT confirms it place as a major participant in the sector and has the financial and operational resources to come strengthened out of the current period and seize the growth opportunities when the market is buoyant again.

Next press release: 3rd quarter 2008 sales, on 6 November 2008, after stock exchange.

About Maisons France Confort:

Founded in 1919, Maisons France Confort is the oldest builder of single-family homes in France and the second largest builder of single-family homes on individual plots. The Group operates in 19 regions in France, with 256 sales offices and 43 model homes.
Staff size at 30 June 2008: 1,270 people.

Maisons France Confort is listed on the Euronext Paris- Compartment B.

ISIN Code: FR 0004159473 - Index: SBF 250, CAC Mid & Small 90
www.maisons-france-confort.com Contacts:
MAISONS FRANCE CONFORT : ACTUS :
Patrick Vandromme
Chairman and Managing Director
Tel.: +33 (0)233 80 66 61
Email: pvandromme@maisonfc.fr

Jean-Christophe GODET
Finance & Administration Manager
Tel: +33 (0)233 80 66 61
Email: jc.godet@maisonfc.fr
Amalia Naveira
Analyst/Investor/Press relations Relations
Tel.: +33 (0)472 18 04 90
Email: anaveira@actus.fr
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