Foxtons share price falls after as a tough market hits first quarter revenues

 
Oliver Gill
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Housing Market Begins To Slow In UK
Foxtons posted its best ever first quarter one year ago (Source: Getty)

Foxtons revenues plummeted in the first quarter, as it suffered from a softening UK housing market.

The figures were in line with expectations, causing the estate agent's share price to fall by just over one per cent.

The figures

Group revenue was £28.7m compared with £38.4m in the first quarter last year, and up on the £26.4m booked in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Property sales commissions almost halved to £11.1m from £20.0m.

Read more: Another dive for Foxtons thanks to London house prices

Lettings revenues were steadier at £15.5m compared with £15.8m. Mortgage broking fees fell from £2.6m to £2.1m.

Why it's interesting

The revenue fall was in line with expectations, which is why the firm's share price has not been obliterated this morning.

Comparatives against the prior year also need to be viewed with perspective. The company was quiet in its commentary this morning, but included the following in its statement to the market: "This quarterly performance is set against the record sales volumes in the first quarter last year when a number of transactions were brought forward ahead of the stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let investments and second homes."

What the analysts said

Anthony Codling, an equity analyst at Jefferies, said Foxtons was facing a "tough market and tough comparatives".

But he added: "The challenge, in our view, is the market rather than the new wave of hybrid agents."

Codling highlighted that Foxtons is "reassuringly expensive", charging three per cent on property sales. On average London homes the firm charges around 12 times more than challengers such as Purplebricks.

He continued: "However, at close of play yesterday Foxtons had 9,817 properties advertised for sale or rent, compared to Purplebricks at 1,101. It appears to us that competition is not just about fees."

Read more: Foxtons shares have fallen again thanks to the mean streets of London

Meanwhile, Begbies Traynor partner Julie Palmer said today's announcement was "uncharacteristically brief" after a "gloomy" set of annual results in March.

She added: "The group’s slow progress is hardly surprising given the ongoing weakening of the UK housing market.

With Foxtons’ share price down more than 30 per cent over the past year and the group facing fresh investor revolts over its generous bonus scheme, at a time when house prices in its London heartland are now also coming under pressure, it’s no surprise that shareholders in the company are now losing patience.

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