NEWSFLASH: LSL profits boosted by £33m sale of Zoopla shares

LSL Property Services, the parent company of 12 brands including Your Move, Reeds Rains, Thomas Morris, Davis Tate and Marsh & Parsons, is to explore its ‘digital opportunities’ this year.

This morning it made the announcement, suggesting it could launch an online venture, while reporting a rise in pre-tax profits for last year.

In its preliminary results for the year to December 31, its pre-tax profits were £63.5m, up 65% from pre-tax profits in 2015 of £38.6m.

The firm made an “exceptional gain” of £32.9m on the sale of Zoopla shares.

Despite the pre-tax profit, however, its underlying profit actually slipped 19% – down to £34.6m, compared with £42.9m the year before, with the underlying operating margin slipping from 14.3% to 11.3%.

Group revenue was up 2% to £307.8m.

The results follow a warning issued last July when LSL said that its full-year profits would be lower than expected because of the impact of the Brexit vote on the housing market.

This morning, however, LSL said it had put in a “solid performance in a changing market”. It also revealed that in the second half of last year it completed exensive research and this year will explore LSL’s “digital opportunities”.

Its estate agency division had 3% growth, while lettings income grew 9%. However, residential sales income fell 10%, to £83.8m, down from £92.9m the year before), with exchange volumes down by 8%. There was a slight – 2% – fall in fees, reflecting “increased competitive pressure” in the second half of the year.

At flagship brand Marsh & Parsons, revenue fell by 5% and profits slid 36%, to £4.4m, down from £6.9m in 2015.

The group in general reported a year of two halves: it said that it had a strong first half, with a notable first quarter acceleration of transactions in the run-up to the change in Stamp Duty on April 1.

In the second half, LSL “reacted decisively” to the changing market conditions, ceasing acquisitions, cutting costs and closing branches, and protecting the balance sheet by selling its shareholding in Zoopla.

LSL chairman Simon Embley said: “Following a strong first half performance, the Group delivered a resilient second half performance given the changing market conditions. I am pleased that we maintained revenue growth in both the Estate Agency and Surveying Divisions.

“The Group reacted decisively to the changing market conditions in the second half by taking selective cost measures and strengthening the balance sheet.”

LSL said that it had started this year positively in both its estate agency and surveying divisions. Where there remains a shortage of stock, “our sales conversion remains strong,” it said. However, it expects to see a reduced volume in house purchase transactions this year. Nevertheless it is sticking to its strategic ambition, to dirve operating profit per branch to between £80,000 and £100,000, and to grow the number of Marsh & Parsons branches to 36.

 

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13 Comments

  1. JuanEye93

    It’s like someone in the early 1900’s saying “I’m going to sell my shares in Ford and buy a new horse”

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    1. Essjaydee51

      Well they survived this year but next year no zoopla to sell, good luck to them but their exploration will most likely centre around redundancies and closure of the double ups and bad performing offices.adapting to a changing market is in every salesmans bag and we estate agents adapt very well but this year could just be a bigger and straighter fight for the meager stock available.Good luck to all of you except my immediate competition.

       

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    2. Bless You

      Good work lsl..

      Countrywide , Connells etc all created the market contolling portals that are Zoopla and Rightmove,  and have now sold all their shares…technically losing control of the one thing that was able to protect the real industry from the #fake online industry. .

      Wont be long before they start taking private lisitngs.

       

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  2. smile please

    As much as i really, really, really, REALLY dislike Zoopla, I cannot help but think CW and LSL are crazy to be cashing in shares. the diversification they are achieving is phenomenal. Share price will only go one way.

    It shows the problems these large companies must be in. CEO’s desperate for a respectable balance sheet end of year in the hope next year is better and they can keep their job that little bit longer.

    If i was a share holder of LSL or Countrywide i would demand a change in leadership as operating profit has fallen like a stone and they are selling some of their largest assets to keep the ship afloat.

    #FakeProfits

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    1. GeoW10

      Could not agree more. It’s all about trying to save face rather than good business practice.

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    2. Robert May

      I once sold a  house for a wealthy old school trader.  “don’t be greedy, take a profit” was his advice. Judge these disposals once you have seen how it all pans out.

      Repeating myself like Polly the parrot, Rightmove is a legacy system that’s constrained by its own success, Zoopla is addicted to buying stuff  to  chase a moving target. The more they buy the less agile they become.

      What would happen if all that cash found it’s way into the next Rightmove type project; they build the next future big thing? What would happen if all the agents who missed out on the 1st Rightmove bonanza were given a 2nd bite of the cherry? What happens if ……..

       

       

       

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      1. smile please

        Far be it me to pull up the old school trader but if that was the case they could have turned a profit on the shares years ago and cashed out.

        I think its about timing. To me Zoopla’s shares are only going one way in the short to medium term, i certainly expect them to be worth more in 12 months then they are today.

        There is a point growth stunts but in my humble opinion Z are not there yet.

        Yes they may have issues but as you have seen with PB its not always about the everyday workings of a company it is how it is perceived by investors. And at the moment Z stock is rising.

        CW & LSL have not sold because share price has peaked they have sold because they need the cash injection.

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      2. MagneticBullet35

        Ok Robert, you’ve repeatedly teased. What exactly is it that you’re working on?

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        1. Robert May

          I am working on levelling the playing field for all the honest decent people in the industry.  It takes a while but slowly by slowly  it is coming together.

          It isn’t a case of teasing it is keeping the rogues and wronguns guessing until it’s too late.

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  3. Frown Please

    Stop Drop and Roll

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  4. J1

    The way is clear for them to join OTM now then – perhaps

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  5. 40yearvetran08

    If you take out the Zoopla share sale I still reckon that is a pretty good result. I doubt there are many agents who increased profits last year. Over my 40 years in this business my profits have been up and down like a tarts knickers. It is the way the business is, get used to it. This year, next year or the year after we will probably have a fantastic year, we will aslo have other years were we make less. Decoupling from Zoopla is a good idea, I agree take the profit while you can. Having visited Zoopla’s offices they clearly live in a bubble, thier time will come when they come down to earth with a big bump and the share price will follow it.

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    1. smile please

      Not as bad as some but if you remove the Z shares looks like they lost circa 6.5 million in profit. (Dont get me wrong i would be happy with a 30 million profit!)

      That was after a storming first quarter (thanks to the rush in BTL’s) – I think the pipelines these corporates are running must be depleted and stock is short nationwide.

      2017/18 does not look good for them considering they have arguably sold some of the family silver.

      I think you will see a greater number of branch closures over the next 12 months to reduce overheads and improve profitability.

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