Countrywide unveils stunning profit reversal

17-08-2006

Estate and letting agent group Countrywide has revealed its pre-tax profits for the last six months have increased by more than 1,000 per cent to £62.8 million.

In the corresponding period last year, the network's profits stood at £3.5 million, although the firm admits that part of the huge increase is attributable to the one-off sale of assets in property website Rightmove.

Average earnings per share in the company stand at 27p, compared to last year's corresponding value of 1.82p.

The UK's largest estate agency network gained £16.4 million from its sale of shares in Rightmove, while Countrywide points to a 24 per cent increase in completed sales as to the underlying reason behind the rise in profits.

Christopher Sporborg, chairman of the company, understandably said he was "delighted" at the huge upturn in the group's fortunes, which was achieved despite a period of challenging market conditions that saw interest rates raised to 4.75 per cent.

"While there are some signs the market is entering a seasonal lull, it shows no sign of extreme movement in either direction. We are disappointed that the Bank of England has chosen to increase interest rates at this time," he said.

But Mr Sporborg predicted that the housing and letting market would remain "sufficiently robust" as long as the bank's interest rates policy reversal did not herald a succession of increases.

The chairman explained: "In this case house prices should continue to increase on a gentle upward trend. In this event, we are confident of the immediate future and anticipate a further strong profit and cash flow performance next year."


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