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Life Sciences Investor Briefing Webcast

UK Housebuilding Sector in 2Q 2019

05 Jul 2019 / Corporate research

“Are we there yet?”

Dwight Barkley PhD is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick. He studies waves in excitable media such as the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, heart tissue and neurons.

In 1997, Dr Barkley and Dr Laurette Tuckerman, a Paris-based mathematical physicist, developed ‘bifurcation analysis for time steppers’, which is a technique for modifying computer codes to perform bifurcation analysis.

More lyrical, perhaps, Dwight is also known for formulating an equation to estimate how long it will be until a child in a car asks the question “are we there yet?” And, it is shown on the image on page 3 of this report.

Herein, there are three factors which decide the timing of this wearisome question i.e. one plus the number of activities, divided by the number of children in the car squared. That figure is then added to the time it took the family to get into the car and set off on its journey.

Crucial in putting off the first query as to the proximity of the destination are on-board activities for children i.e. no activities equals a question before leaving the driveway.

Dr Barkley says: “Mathematics can help answer many of life’s questions”.

If only the Brexit journey were that simple. It is not. We are all children now stuck in the back seat; and, maybe, we are still on the driveway with a dearth of on-board activities.

Yes, three years on Brexit-resolution-fatigue is making itself felt across the board, including the UK Housebuilding Sector, where the fall in value in 2Q’19 was 7%.

Berkeley said something similar in its final results, on 20 June, when it lamented an uncertain operating environment and “a lack of visibility in the political outlook”; and its PBT is expected to fall by a further third this fiscal year.

The daily Sector value chart is also lurching from top-left to bottom-right (as is the British Pound versus the Euro).

Yes, there were two palpable positives in 2Q from the NHBC and UK Finance about building activity and mortgages; plus, on the third day of 3Q, CBRE’s bid for Telford Homes. Nonetheless, prospective earnings growth for the Sector is now flat in both 2019 and 2020.

This is about the journey.

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