Shares in Persimmon were flat on the FTSE 250 in afternoon trading after the housebuilder said it expected to see "a significant increase in underlying profit before tax, which will be at the top end of analysts' expectations".

Persimmon said that last year it legally completed 9,384 homes at an average price of £167,000, representing a rise in completions from the previous year of 4.5 per cent and a rise in average prices of six per cent.

The figures add up to a turnover last year of £1.57 billion, up around ten per cent from the previous year.

Persimmon also said that it had cut its net borrowings from £267.5 million as of December 2009 to around £51 million at the end of 2010.

The group said that it had acquired 5,000 plots of land in the second half of the year, taking its landbank to around 59,000 plots, which represents approximately 6.3 years of supply for the company.

The poor weather at the end of last year had the effect of reducing sales activity in the period, but Persimmon said it expected prospective buyers put off by the snow to come out in larger numbers in the spring sales season.

In addition Persimmon announced the resignation of its Chairman John White, who will stand down at the company's AGM on 21 April.

Mr White will be replaced by Nicholas Wrigley, who currently serves as a non-executive director of Persimmon.

Mike Farley, Chief Executive of Persimmon, said, "John has made an immense contribution to Persimmon over the past three decades, particularly in his roles as Chief Executive and Chairman. His efforts have been fundamental to making the company one of the UK's premier housebuilders."

Mr White commented, "It's been a great privilege to serve Persimmon for 32 years but I feel this is the appropriate time for me to move on. I leave the company in the knowledge that it is in a great position for the future, with a strong balance sheet, a first class management team and an excellent Board of Directors".

"Nicholas Wrigley has been a valued member of the Board since 2006 and I'm confident he is the ideal person to oversee Persimmon's further strengthening as a leading housebuilder."

By 13:25 shares in Persimmon were flat on the FTSE 250 at 437.70 pence per share.