Moneysupermarket quids in as profits rise 29% but uncertain investors cause shares to plummet

Revenues and profits are up at the price comparison site but shares have dropped on funding for lending and Google fears

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 14 Aug 2013
It’s a morning of mixed news for Moneysupermarket. The price comparison site has seen a 10% rise in revenues and adjusted its pre-tax profits up by almost a third (29%), despite a slow-down in its money division, caused by cheap loans offered by government.

The news has been given a lukewarm welcome by the markets though, with shares plummeting 15% in early morning trading. The sell-off follows a special 12.9p dividend paid out last Friday signalling investors could be cashing-in while the going is still 'good'.
 
The 29% profit rise in its first half is a slowdown compared to the 31% rise recorded in the first quarter giving shareholders some cause for concern. The news follows the online company’s complaints earlier this month it had been hurt by a change to Google’s algorithm, sending it sliding further down on results pages.
 
Diversification into other areas such as insurance and travel services has saved the price comparison website from a dip in overall revenues. The upward revision brings full-year profit expectations up to £39.9m.
 
The government’s Funding for Lending scheme is something of a thorn in Moneysupermarket.com’s side. The cheap funds made available to banks through the scheme have been blamed for lowering demand of the online company’s money business, which includes current and savings accounts.
 
‘We've had a good first half of 2013,’ said chief executive Peter Plumb.
 
‘Revenues were 10% and profits 29% ahead of this time last year. The benefits of our increasingly diversified business are evident. We grew our Insurance, Home Services and Travel businesses, which more than offset lower demand in our Money business where savings revenues continue to be impacted by the Government's 'Funding for Lending' scheme, which is reducing what savers earn on their deposits.’
 
The price comparison site is no doubt looking forward to the launch of its latest ad campaign in August. Last July’s ad launch provided a bumper month for the company and with this morning’s shareholder reaction in mind, the campaign could give Moneysupermarket the cash injection it now needs to be ‘soooo moneysupermarket’ once more.

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