UPDATE 2-British homebuilder Crest Nicholson raises 2021 profit forecast

* Sees FY21 adjusted PBT of at least 100 mln stg

* HY PBT 36.3 mln stg vs loss of 51.2 mln stg

* Crest’s margins beginning to improve - Barclays (Adds CEO, analyst comments, share movement)

June 24 (Reuters) - British homebuilder Crest Nicholson raised its annual profit forecast and said its sales would grow even as the government gradually tapers stamp duty breaks aimed at propping up the housing market during the pandemic.

The company, which focuses on suburban areas outside London and in southern England, said the resilience would come from continued demand for higher-value homes that are not part of the support measures.

In July 2020, the threshold at which homebuyers in much of Britain would pay stamp duty - or property purchase tax - was raised from 125,000 to 500,000 pounds ($175,000-$700,000). This will gradually be unwound between the end of this month and the beginning of October.

“Based on demand for homes which will complete after the 30 September 2021 stamp duty deadline, we are confident that the housing market will remain robust,” said Crest Nicholson, which specialises in chiefly detached and semi-detached houses.

The midcap company raised its forecast for its 2021 adjusted profit before tax to at least 100 million pounds, from a previous forecast of 95 million pounds. That would represent a rise of about 118% versus last year, when it made 45.9 million pounds of profit.

The stamp duty holiday and demand for bigger homes that are better for remote working helped the company swing to a 36.3 million pound profit for the six months ended April from a year-earlier loss of 51.2 million pounds, sending its shares up more than 5% in morning trade.

Refinitiv Eikon data projects a 93% surge in Crest Nicholson’s earnings in the current year, and a 28% growth in fiscal 2022.

Another British homebuilder, Vistry - which has a relatively higher exposure to lower-priced homes - will see earnings growth slow to 17% next year, according to the Refinitiv forecast data. It expects to more than double profits this year as people rush to take advantage of the schemes.

“Crest’s margins are beginning to yield the benefits of fewer legacy sites and the operational efficiency programme,” said Barclays analysts in a note.

$1 = 0.7165 pounds Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Pravin Char