Housebuilder Cairn Homes has predicted operating profits of about €53m for 2018 after what it called a "strong trading performance" for the year, sending its shares higher in Dublin trade.

In a trading statement for the 12 months to December, the company said it sold a total of 804 new homes during the year, up from 418 in 2017.

It said it believes that a minimum of 35,000 new homes are required nationally, including 20,000 in the Greater Dublin Area. 

Total revenues for the year are expected to come in at €337m, up from €149.5m in 2017. Operating profits are pencilled in at €53m compared to €14.5m in 2017.

Cairn said its average selling price last year was €366,000, up from €315,000 the previous year.

The company said it has a strong forward sales pipeline with a sales value of €159.5m - 344 units at an average selling price of €464,000.

It plans to reopen sales on seven of its active sites in the first quarter of this year. First sales launches on active sites this year include Marivalla in Maynooth, Gandon Park in Lucan, Oak Park in Naas, Donnybrook Gardens in Dublin 4 and Citywest in Dublin 24. 

Cairn Homes also said today that market conditions remain positive, despite the Brexit uncertainty.

"Demand is being driven by strong population growth and strengthening employment levels, while affordability is being supported by positive wage inflation and increased competition among mortgage providers," Cairn said.

"The supply of new homes is less than 50% of annual demand and increasing capacity within the industry remains constrained by the lack of scaled housebuilders," it added.