Nama chief Brendan McDonagh

Irish housebuilder Abbey will look to acquire land when Nama puts it up for sale, raising the possibility it will end up indirectly acquiring land from heavily indebted rival McInerney.

The company said last week that "aggressive selling continues to clear inventory" but preliminary results for the year ended 30 April show the group is still achieving profit margins of about 20% from its Irish portfolio – it made an operating profit of nearly €4.4m on sales of €22m.

In Britain, by contrast, the profit margin was half that at just under 10%. Turnover there was just under €58m and operating profit stood at nearly €8m.

Abbey has a significant exposure to the UK market – more than a quarter of its plots with planning permission are in England – and the company said it was repurchasing land at a "slow pace".

It said that the aggressive support measures last year in England were waning and the "immediate outlook is at best dull".

House prices have been falling in the UK for a number of months and some analysts believe a slump is near. Despite this the company has bought a further 207 plots across four sites in England since the year end and "terms have been agreed for further acquisitions".

The company has thus increased its exposure to the English development-land market by nearly 50% despite the poor outlook and intends to increase it further. "With a fair wind the current year may mark the low point for our UK turnover in this cycle," the company said.

The company's Prague operations are struggling, with the company admitting it is "continuing to struggle to achieve a satisfactory pace of construction". It sold 28 properties there for a total of just under €6.5m, generating less than €550,000 profit.

Abbey's attraction for many investors has been its cash flow – at the end of last year it held €51.8m in cash together with €52.1m in UK government bonds. However, the surplus in the company's defined benefit pension scheme has fallen dramatically from nearly €6.9m at the end of April 2009 to €1.74m in the same period last year.

The company significantly outperformed expectations, with turnover of more than €97m and an operating profit of more than €12.8m – Davy for example had expected an operating profit of €5.3m on turnover of €83.9m.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg