Investors gave outgoing Moneysupermarket boss Mark Lewis the thumbs-up on Thursday as the price comparison site recorded a decent boost in profits.
The solid, if unspectacular, Lewis said yesterday he will step down “shortly” amid rumours he could be off to work in private equity.
He has overseen a difficult three years since he joined in early 2017 as the company tried to encourage more of its customers to buy products on their mobiles.
Dubbed the “Reinvent” strategy, under Lewis the firm ploughed millions into marketing and advertising campaigns to make it happen. Customers were reluctant at first but in the past 12 months the strategy has started to bear fruit and is boosting the bottom line.
The company refused to publish any precise data but analysts say the number of people signed up to the app is in the millions, making purchases more frequent.
As a result profit was up 10% to £94.9 million in 2019, while revenue increased 9% to £388 million.
Liberum analyst Harry Read said he was surprised Lewis has decided to leave, adding: “I can only conclude he thinks his work is done.” The shares gained 29p to 338p. The share price stood at 341p when Lewis joined the business.
But it was a slow day on the blue-chip FTSE 100 index, which was up 6.33 points to 7463.35.
Hip and knee implants maker Smith & Nephew was the only major riser as it downplayed the panic over Covid-19, which has gripped the markets in recent weeks.
Chief executive Roland Diggelmann told investors that the epidemic had not affected either of its factories in Beijing or Suzhou and as a result all its operations are running as normal.
The comments sent shares up 7%, or 148p, to 1993p as China accounts for 7% of the company’s revenues. It also posted revenue growth of 4.4% for the full year, which propelled Smith & Nephew’s sales to £3.8 billion.
Bathroom and kitchen products supplier Norcros slid 12% after it warned profit for the year would be hit by supply chain disruptions due to coronavirus. The shares were down 37.7p to 253p.
But Revolution Bars gained 1p at 72p after the pubs and bars group was given a Buy rating by analysts at Peel Hunt.
The company, which owns 79 bars dotted around London and the UK, had a rough ride last year has been refurbishing them.