Mountview Estates Plc - Preliminary Results
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MOUNTVIEW ESTATES P.L.C.
Preliminary Results for the year ended 31 March 2020
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER'S STATEMENT
When I wrote this statement last year I drew attention to the fact that the British People voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016 but every statement that I had written since then has been conscious of the uncertainties that continue pending the conclusion of our withdrawal.
Happily on 12 December 2019 Boris Johnson was elected with a big majority that enabled us to leave the European Union on 31 January 2020 but the details of the withdrawal will not be certain until 31 December 2020.
Now added to these uncertainties are the Covid-19 constraints the effects of which I will review later in this statement. The financial year under review ended on 31 March 2020 and the lockdown was not imposed until within ten days of that date. Given the time-lag on transactions in the property business it is fair to assume that any deal that was to conclude within those few days was already under contract before the constraints were imposed.
I believe that the trading results for the year ended 31 March 2020 were not influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic and that any influence or effects should be considered as post balance sheet events.
The headline figures in respect of our financial performance for the year ended 31 March 2020 are detailed under the heading "Financial Highlights" below. Whilst Revenue has dropped by a very modest amount all the other performance indicators have shown an upward trend. Gearing has fallen from 11.3% to 7.2% and thus we are in an even stronger position to make the purchases which are essential to the future of the Company. Indeed we have made some good purchases in our new financial year.
The final dividend is maintained at 200 pence per share and is payable on 17 August 2020 subject to approval at the Annual General Meeting on 12 August 2020. This will keep the total annual dividend at 400 pence per share which is slightly more generously covered 1.75 times than it was last year.
And now I inevitably turn to "Stay Home, Protect the N.H.S., Save Lives" or as expressed more recently "Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives".
Our colleague Andrew Williams is a doctor and it would be wrong not to express our admiration for his unstinting work on the front line. Well done and thank you, Andrew!
We have had to adapt to new ways of running the office and I think that we have done so quite effectively. Those of us who can work from home do so and the office is staffed on a rota basis so that we are able to maintain social distancing and still serve our customers appropriately. Over 80% of our rents are paid directly into the bank and regulated rents are set at a modest level. Provided tenants pay their rent they have absolute security of tenure and a significant number have help from social services.
Auctions are now all conducted remotely and the auctioneers are becoming more successful at replicating the ballroom atmosphere. So far this financial year we have been happy in the auction room both in terms of sale prices achieved and the prices at which we have been able to make purchases. Nobody can pretend that life is normal but our staff are coping very well.
We have not had to furlough any staff or reduce staff numbers in any other way and I remain confident that our years of financial prudence will enable us to continue to conduct the business successfully and to maintain our dividend payments. Whilst I thank my staff and colleagues for their hard work, loyalty and expertise in producing increased profits for the year ended 31 March 2020 I thank them also for the willingness and good humour with which they are adapting to the strange circumstances in which we are finding ourselves.
I look forward to writing this statement in more normal times next year.