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Online estate agent, Purplebricks saw its share price shoot up and then down again as investors mulled over its latest set of interim results. Now standing at 105p at the time of writing, the shares are up 0.77p but still down from its 157p high this time last year.
Its results revealed UK instructions had fallen by 15 per cent in the first half of the year, against the backdrop of a tough property market, but claimed there is ‘pent up demand’ for its services. UK operating profit was also down by 38.5 per cent to £3.5 million and total UK revenues were down by 2.7 per cent to £47.1 million.
The online estate agent’s Chief Executive, Vic Darvey, was upbeat about the results, saying that he was pleased with the company’s performance and business had now stabilised, but were analysts and investors convinced?
Darvey pointed to improvements in the company’s technology led proposition and claimed Purplebricks were confident of ‘meeting its medium-term objective to gain a 10 per cent share of the UK market’, but many have pointed out that the figures were far from spectacular.
The property seller said it was behind 5.3 per cent of all properties sold in the UK in the first half of the year, and claims it enjoys a 4.1 per cent share of all listings.
Analysts seem unconvinced though with some pointing out that while business may have stabilised, Darvey’s claim that the firm is enjoying profitable trading is a bit of a stretch. Its share price has certainly taken a rapid nosedive over the past couple of years – in August 2017, it stood at 485p and even at the beginning of this year, it stood at 147p. There is no doubt that political uncertainty and Brexit fears have made the property market very tough, but with today’s General Election result putting Brexit firmly back on the table, the sector is likely to remain volatile leaving some questioning where the trigger for such a big jump in market share would come from.
Purplebricks says its Canadian operation – its only remaining international arm – outperformed expectations and that it’s exit from Australia and the US is running smoothly. The online estate agency also announced it intends to test four new pricing strategies in 2020 in a bid to improve its market share.
Peel Hunt analysts said that ‘’’the results were in line with what management had previously told the market to expect’ but pointed out while revenues were ahead profits were lower and it reissued its ‘under review’ rating on shares. JP Morgan cut its price target from 124p to 117p and issued a ‘neutral’ rating on the stock and UBS also reissued its neutral rating. It’s too soon to tell whether Darvey’s ambitious market share hopes will come to fruition, but based on current sentiment, nobody is betting their house on it just yet.
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