**Countrywide Third Quarter Earnings Rise, But Cautious On 2015 Outlook**
LONDON (Alliance News) – Countrywide PLC on Thursday said its earnings and revenue both increased in the third quarter, though it said it was seeing an impact from the slowdown in the London market and sounded a note of caution on the possible challenges it may face in 2015.
The FTSE 250 estate agency said revenue in the third quarter to the end of September was GBP188.4 million, up 22% year-on-year, with earnings before income, taxation, depreciation and amortisation at GBP40.2 million, up 38%.
Revenue for the nine months to the end of September was GBP522.9 million, a 26% rise, while EBITDA was GBP85.2 million, up 54%.
The group said it was boosted by its lettings business in the quarter, with EBITDA rising 47% for the division. Countrywide said it plans to focus on growing this business further in the future.
It said its London & Premier arm recorded revenue and EBITDA in the third quarter broadly in line with the year before on the back of a strong lettings performance which offset the slowdown in the market. Countrywide said there is evidence of a rebalancing of buyer and seller expectations in the capital which, though likely to have a negative impact in the short term, is a positive for the long-term outlook in the market.
The group said it had expected a slowdown in market volumes in the third quarter, in part due to the UK’s Mortgage Market Review and also due to tough comparables. It said this has been in evidence in recent months, particularly in London, but said it maintains its view for market volumes to be up 10-15% for the full year against 2013.
Owing to it maintaining its volumes forecast, Countrywide said it is on track to meet market expectations for the year in terms of profit and operating margins.
The group did sound a note of caution on 2015, however, citing the UK General Election in May, the potential for an interest rate hike, and the appetite amongst lenders to increase mortgage volumes as possible challenges it may face.
“The group is in line to deliver a record set of financial results for 2014 notwithstanding the reduced level of recent market growth,” said Alison Platt, chief executive of Countrywide.
By Sam Unsted; [email protected]; @SamUAtAlliance
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