|Bid||68.10 x N/A|
|Ask||69.60 x N/A|
|Day's range||N/A - N/A|
|52-week range||57.30 - 57.30|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.66|
|PE ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Forward dividend & yield||0.62 (1.08%)|
|Ex-dividend date||18 Jun 2020|
|1y target est||N/A|
Dividend cuts are typically bad news for shareholders - so anticipating them ahead of time can reduce risk and help improve portfolio performance. There are lo...
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The U.K. housing market — that obsession of middle-class Brits — has been placed in suspended animation. Buyers and renters have been told to delay moving home to limit the spread of coronavirus. While a few transactions are still going through, a functioning market depends on prospective buyers and surveyors being able to view people’s homes. Mobility restrictions and distancing measures make that all but impossible.Set against the loss of life caused by the virus, the anticipated collapse in housing transactions for at least the next few months is a price worth paying. Still, the knock-on effect will be severe across the sector, from the mortgage lenders obliged to offer struggling customers three-month payment holidays to the home-builders like Persimmon Plc and Taylor Wimpey Plc who’ve closed construction sites. For estate agents, struggling even before the pandemic, the standstill will be particularly painful.Boris Johnson’s government is trying to cushion the blow by suspending property taxes for businesses and paying employee wages (yes, even for real estate agents). But smaller outfits, those with weak balance sheets or those that were mismanaged before coronavirus struck, face a very difficult year. In the 2008-2009 downturn thousands of estate agents left the industry.It won’t be just those forced to shutter high street branches that face a bleak period though; while employees of digital property portals such as Rightmove Plc and Zoopla can more easily work from home, they’re being drawn into a brutal price war.With the busy spring and summer selling season poised to start, the timing of the lockdown could hardly be worse. The U.K. property market has already endured a few tepid years of because Brexit worries, stamp duty changes and high house prices that make it harder for people to purchase a home. Now the much ballyhooed “Boris bounce” after his recent election win has been extinguished and 2020 looks like being a write-off, forcing estate agents to slash costs.Countrywide Plc, the country’s biggest estate agent, was already ailing, having piled on debt to fund expansion. Shareholders recapitalized the business in 2018 via a massively discounted rights issue. Its debt covenants were also amended. Now, a takeover by rival LSL Property Services Plc has been called off; an agreed 38 million pound sale of its commercial property arm also failed to complete. Including lease obligations it still has about 194 million pounds of net debt, or almost 6 times ebitda. That’s uncomfortably high.London-focused Foxtons Group Plc is also loss-making but it has no bank or bond debt and held 15.5 million pounds of cash at the end of December. It has since drawn down a 5 million pounds credit line. However, renting office space and the ubiquitous Minis that its agents drive around consumes about 12 million pounds annually, so it too must slash costs. Besides rent, another big outlay for agents is the cost of advertising properties for sale with online portals. On average market leader Rightmove Plc charges agents more than 1,000 pounds a month for each advertiser. Coronavirus has sparked a full-blown rebellion against such fees. Rightmove’s initial offer to defer part of those payments for six months was poorly received, forcing it to backtrack and offer a 75% discount for the next four months instead. This will cost about 70 million pounds, or about one-fifth of estimated revenues. But that’s not the end of it: Rival Zoopla, which was acquired by private equity firm SilverLake in 2018 for $3 billion, is offering agents nine months free if they quit Rightmove. On Friday Rightmove suspended its dividend and scrapped its financial guidance.Loss-making platform Purplebricks Group Plc says it plans to conduct viewings and valuations via Zoom, Facetime and Whatsapp. But its fixed-fee model (customers must pay even if their home doesn’t sell) could come under more pressure. The company is already reeling from a failed U.S. and Australian expansion. German media giant Axel Springer SE doubled its stake last year and now owns 26% of the group, but the shares have since lost about two-thirds of their value. It’s not all bad. The collapse in travel bookings has prompted people who usually let their homes on Airbnb in tourist hotpots like London and Edinburgh to advertise long term rentals instead. Eventually the wider property market should rebound, driven in part by the desire of those who are presently housebound deciding they really do need a bigger home or more green space.Yet the pace of that rebound, and the outlook for prices, will depend on whether government succeeds in preventing the temporary shock of coronavirus wreaking permanent economic damage. As elsewhere, unemployed Britons will be less inclined to purchase a home, and banks could tighten lending standards. Estate agents that survive the current drought will have to work even harder for their fees.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Elliott Management Corp. demanded German classifieds group Scout24 AG split itself in two and pursue a bigger share buyback to boost investor returns after a sale of the company fell through in May.The U.S. activist investor, which disclosed a 7% stake in Scout24 on Monday alongside a letter laying out its position, said the company should sell its car listing business and focus on its real-estate unit, a move that Elliott predicted could lift the stock close to 65 euros a share. That’s well beyond the company’s previous record and more than twice its initial-public offering of 30 euros in 2015.“We believe there is a growing demand among a wide array of stakeholders for Scout24’s leadership to demonstrate a level of urgency that has thus far been lacking,” Elliott said.Scout24 has been vulnerable to an activist since its shareholders rejected a 46-euro-per-share offer from private equity firms Blackstone Group LP and Hellman & Friedman in May. Last month, the company announced it would simplify its structure to better focus on its two biggest businesses -- auto and real estate -- as well as pursue a 300 million-euro ($334 million) share buyback. For Elliott, the moves aren’t enough.The stock is now trading near its record high, closing Friday at 50.25 euros, and is up about 25% this year. The shares rose 0.7% as of 12:08 p.m. in Frankfurt, while the broader Stoxx Europe 600 Index was down 1.6%.Elliott said it has outlined its views for a breakup of Scout24 in meetings with managers of the company, whom it said should never have recommended the Blackstone-Hellman & Friedman offer.The AutoScout24 car business and the Immobilienscout24 real estate unit “do not have any material synergies sitting under one roof,” Elliott said, arguing that the existing structure doesn’t allow for resources to be allocated efficiently across divisions and employees don’t have proper incentives.In a statement, Scout24 said it has had active discussions with shareholders including Elliott in the past few months, before and after announcing its new strategy and committed to continue the dialogue. “We have announced comprehensive steps to strengthen both core businesses, continue to grow revenue while increasing operational efficiency and capital structure optimization,” Scout24 said. AutoScout24 SuitorsThere is rumored or confirmed interest from potential buyers in AutoScout24, and Immobilienscout24 is worth more than 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) alone, almost as much as the entire company, Elliott said.A number of competitors could bid for AutoScout24, Germany’s second-biggest car listings business after EBay Inc.’s Mobile.de, with 1.1 million listings and 1.5 million listings, respectively.Softbank Group Corp.-backed Auto1 Group GmbH has expressed interest in buying the business in the past, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations were private. And German publisher Axel Springer SE, which is being acquired by KKR & Co., has been seen as a potential suitor by analysts at Liberum, who valued AutoScout24 at 2.3 billion euros in a note last month.Spokeswomen for Auto1 and Axel Springer declined to comment.Elliott’s six-page letter to Scout24, dated July 26, outlines what the activist sees as the company’s potential, what it views as “missed opportunities” and its opinion on Scout24’s path forward. Addressed to Chief Executive Officer Tobias Hartmann and Supervisory Board Chairman Hans-Holger Albrecht, it’s replete with strong criticisms. Elliott said Scout24’s current share buyback plan was “grossly lacking in ambition.”The investor complained that Scout24’s executives had heard the fund’s ideas privately and promised to give feedback on its proposals, but instead issued a July 19 press release with its strategy update that “widely missed the mark,” according to Elliott.Elliott in GermanyScout24 adds to Elliott’s campaigns in Germany, where it has recently targeted pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG, software company SAP SE and industrial firm Thyssenkrupp AG.Elliott wants Bayer to settle legal claims linked to products from its Monsanto unit to unlock shareholder value. SAP has pursued a restructuring since Elliott disclosed a 1.2 billion-euro stake in April. At Thyssenkrupp, the chief executive officer and chairman resigned following criticism from investors including Elliott, who derided the company’s slow turnaround and what they see as its poor share price performance.(Updates with Scout24 statement in eight paragraph, context throughout.)\--With assistance from Frank Connelly.To contact the reporters on this story: Stefan Nicola in Berlin at firstname.lastname@example.org;Eyk Henning in Frankfurt at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at firstname.lastname@example.org, Benedikt KammelFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.