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Rightmove sees ‘optimistic start to 2021’ after sales and profits fall

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Henry Saker-Clark
·2-min read
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Rightmove has hailed an “optimistic start” to the new year after it said that revenues and profits plunged in 2020.

The online property portal saw shares dip after it posted a 29% decline in revenues to £205.7 million, as it was affected by the discount support it offered customers between April and September.

Lower revenues also weighed on the company’s profitability, with operating profit sliding by 37% to £135.1 million.

Nevertheless, both profit and revenue figures came in ahead of analyst expectations.

“The UK housing market has, for the most part, shaken off pandemic-related challenges to forge an optimistic start to 2021,” the company said.

“In the absence of further economic shocks, we think it is likely that the current shortage of new listings will correct once the immediate lockdown is lifted and will have no lasting impact on estate agency branch numbers.”

Rightmove also said that it reported its busiest January for traffic as potential customers continued to scour its site during the stamp duty holiday.

Peter Brooks-Johnson, chief executive, said: “In a year when we stayed in our homes more than ever before, people continued to turn to Rightmove for their next move and for real-time information, helping us to extend our lead in the market.

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“The record traffic and inquiries that followed the reopening of the market led to us sending 51 million property leads to our customers.

“We remain mindful that 2021 may bring further Covid-related challenges, but we will continue to deliver our strategy to help make home-moving easier, delivering the best solutions to our customers and the most engaging experience for our users.”

Dan Lane, senior analyst at Freetrade, said: “The worrying thing is that even with all of the tailwinds in stamp duty holidays and the platform seeing record visits last July, the shares still aren’t back above those pre-pandemic highs.

“It might seem unfair to compare today with those peaks but US cousin Zillow has more than managed it in the US.

“Stamp duty looks like it’s getting an extra holiday next week, which might mean a few of us might forgo ours this summer and use those pent-up savings to scour Rightmove a bit more.”

Shares in the company were 4.5% lower at 578.6p in early trading.

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