Rightmove revenues jump as it attracts a record number of customers - but chief exec steps down

 
Emma Haslett
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Rightmove shares fell in early trading (Source: YouTube)

Take that, rivals: Rightmove beat analyst expectations on almost every level with its 2016 results - another sign worries about the property market after the EU referendum were misplaced.

The figures

Revenues rose 15 per cent to £220m in 2016, with underlying operating profit rising 15 per cent to £166.2m.

The company said it had attracted a record number of customers, with its agency and new homes customers rising two per cent to 20,121, while 1m properties were advertised on the site during the year - a third more than on any other portal, it said.

Visits to the site rose 10 per cent to more than 120m visits per month, while the amount of time visitors spent on the site rose five per cent to 1bn minutes per month.

Underlying earnings per share rose 18 per cent to 142.8p, while it hiked its final dividend by 19 per cent to 32p.

Shareholders clearly had higher expectations, though: shares dived four per cent to 4,077p in early trading.

Why it's interesting

In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, the property market was hit, with house prices (and the share prices of associated companies) taking a dive.

But the evidence is increasingly that it was a temporary blip: figures published yesterday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders suggested mortgage lenders had their best January since 2008 last month.

Meanwhile, the company said chief executive Nick McKittrick will step down in May, to be replaced by chief operating officer Peter Brooks-Johnson.

It's also worth noting it looks like an effort by estate agents to fight off its supremacy with the launch of OntheMarket.com, the estate agent-led portal which forces agents to choose between it and Zoopla, has fallen flat.

"The efforts of ‘estate agents collectives’ have had little impact and ironically, the One Other Portal Rule has, in our view, only enhanced rather than challenged Rightmove’s dominant position," said analyst Anthony Codling.

What Rightmove said

McKittrick said:

Our continued innovation and audience growth is delivering even greater exposure for our customers' brands and properties. We are adding further value through our data, advertising products and productivity tools and by building closer relationships with customers to support their ambitions. Our customer numbers grew by two per cent to reach an all-time high of over 20,100 and with customers spending more on our products, our revenue increased by 15 per cent.

In short

A strong performance in a questionable market - although shareholders weren't happy with McKittrick's plans to step down.

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