Bellway fell to its first full-year loss as a quoted company after it wrote down the value of its land bank by £66m. The housebuilder fell from a pre-tax profit of £34.8m to a loss of £36.6m for the year to July 31.

However, the results were widely praised by analysts as Bellway reduced its net debt, putting it in a strong position to rebuild its land bank. The company, which bolstered its finances in August with a £45m equity raising, lowered its net debt by £180.9m to £36.8m.

Turnover fell 41% from £1.15bn to £684m, while losses per share were 23.9p, against earnings of 23.5p.

Housebuilding in the UK is expected to contract by 18.1% during 2009, the biggest fall since records began in 1948.

However, through cost reductions – including axing 1,500 jobs, about 50% of its workforce – and reducing debt, Bellway is in a rare position in being able to buy land.

Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph