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ZPG on track to meet current market expectations

The group, which owns the Zoopla and uSwitch brands, said its web sites and mobile apps attracted an average of 53mln visits in the final three months of 2017

Zoopla
Moving? The shares moved up a penny to 348.8p

ZPG PLC (LON:ZPG), formerly Zoopla Property Group, said its new financial year has got off to a good start in its Property and Comparison divisions.

The group, which owns the Zoopla, uSwitch, PrimeLocation and Hometrack brands, said its web sites and mobile apps attracted an average of 53mln visits in the final three months of 2017 - the first quarter of the company's financial year.

READ: Zoopla owner ZPG posts full year revenue growth as website traffic jumps

In the Property division, management is encouraged by the ongoing demand for its marketing, software and data products, the company said in a statement released ahead of Tuesday’s annual general meeting.

The Comparison division experienced solid switching volumes across each of the energy, communications and financial services verticals, the company said.

“We continue to make good progress on the integration of our products across the uSwitch and Money platforms, enabling even more consumers to save money off a broader range of household bills,” it added.

The group remains comfortable with the market’s expectations for the current financial year.

Numis Securities said it was a “solid first quarter trading update” from the group that ultimately confirms confidence in estimates for the year.

READ: Zoopla owner ZPG mulling its options as Gocompare rejects “highly opportunistic” takeover offer

It also said it was a “wordy update” with no numbers, but the absence of numbers did not stop the broker from making a tweak to its 2018 profit before tax and earnings per share estimates to reflect the acquisition of Calcasa, which was completed in December.

The broker, which has retained its “add” rating for the stock, now expects profit before tax for this year to come in at £96.6mln (up from its previous estimate of £95.1mln) and earnings per share to be 17.5p (previously: 17.3p).

Shore Capital, which rates the shares as a ‘buy’, said it was “encouraged by the positive momentum flagged in this morning’s update”.

The broker is “fundamentally positive on ZPG’s prospects as a prominent beneficiary of structural growth in online switching activity and digital property advertising”.

It also sees a significant opportunity in digital property advertising, where it thinks the group can close the current pricing gap on Rightmove PLC (LON:RMV), which it rates as a ‘hold’.

The broker views ZPG’s software and data offering as a clear point of differentiation in comparison to Rightmove.

“More broadly, we are bullish on the group’s strategy of bringing together its property and price comparison businesses to unlock cross-selling opportunities, create competitive advantage, and offer a comprehensive proposition to consumers in the Home Services market - which we see as a potential source of medium-term upgrades,” Shore said.

“One caveat to this positive view is that ZPG has become a significantly more complex business in a relatively short space of time following a string of recent acquisitions (including Hometrack, Expert Agent, Ravensworth, Money.co.uk and Calcasa); for this reason we would welcome a period of consolidation and focus on integration, unlocking synergies and realising organic growth potential before further deals are undertaken,” it added.

The shares nudged 1.2p higher to 349p.

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