Countrywide shares just hit an all-time low after it warned on its earnings

Emma Haslett
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The company, which owns estate agents such as Hamptons International, warned earnings will be lower (Source: Getty)

As if Countrywide didn't have a bad enough day yesterday after Philip Hammond's decision to ditch letting fees, today shares in the UK's largest estate agent hit an all-time low following a decidedly downbeat assessment of the property market.

In a statement this morning the company, which owns estate agent brands including Hamptons International and Bairstow Eves, said activity in the residential property market "remained challenged", with a combination of stamp duty and the aftermath of the EU referendum causing transaction levels to fall "significantly below" 2015 levels.

Shares fell as much as 13 per cent, to an all-time low of 166.4p, before paring some of those losses an hour into trading, settling at 181.1p, 6.6 per cent down.

Group revenue in the three months to the end of September fell to £188.5m, from £197.1m the year before, although revenue for its first three quarters seemed healthier, rising from £535.7m last year to £558.7m this year.

London was a sticking point - although the number of exchanges fell one per cent across the whole of the UK during the third quarter, in the capital that figure was down by a third.

However, the number of lettings properties under management edged up one per cent in the capital, and 14 per cent across the rest of the country.

As a result of that, it said full-year earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation will be at the lower end of market expectations.

In July it posted figures showing pre-tax profits had fallen 25 per cent in £21.8m in the six months to the end of June - although even in the capital, exchanges were up two per cent.

"We have made good progress this year despite tough market conditions since the EU referendum," said Alison Platt, the company's chief executive.

She also made a rather pointed remark about yesterday's announcement from Hammond.

"In light of the chancellor's announcement yesterday regarding letting agents' fees, we look forward to working with the Government through this consultation process." Quite.

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