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Monday 16 November, 2009

Interim Management Statement

RNS Number : 5309C Group PLC
16 November 2009 - Interim Management Statement Group PLC

16 November 2009 Group PLC ("" or the "Group"), the UK's leading price comparison site, issues the following Interim Management Statement relating to the period from 1 July 2009 to the latest practicable date prior to the publication of this statement, being 15 November 2009. The financial and operational data set out below is in respect of the Group's third quarter (1 July 2009 to 30 September 2009) unless otherwise stated.

The Group's financial performance in the third quarter and in the year to date, is in line with the Board's expectations following the announcement of the interim results on 4 August 2009.  Q3 has been the strongest trading quarter this year, as trading levels continued to stabilise. Internet revenues were approximately 15% below Q3 2008 and approximately 15% ahead of the H1 run rate. The third quarter typically represents a period of higher offline media spend. Therefore, as indicated at the interim announcement, EBITDA was approximately 5% ahead of the H1 run rate, but with margins slightly ahead of the same quarter last year.


Revenues in the Money vertical were 40% lower than in Q3 2008 due to significantly worse conditions in the credit market compared to this time last yearTrading has been gradually improving throughout the course of this year with Q3 2009 revenues approximately 10% ahead of the H1 run rateVisitor numbers were marginally up on the same period last year.

Revenues generated from secured loans were markedly lower in 2009 compared to 2008. This was mainly due to First Plus which contributed £3.7m in Q3 2008 and which closed to new business in August 2008Excluding revenues from secured loans the Money vertical declined by 19% against Q3 2008 representing a much slower rate of decline than the Group saw in H1 2009 when revenues excluding secured loans in the money vertical were approximately 40% lower than H1 2009. 

Savings was the strongest performer in the Money vertical with revenues growing over the same period last year as consumers looked to maximise their returns in a low interest environment and lenders sought to strengthen their balance sheets through consumer deposits

Unsecured lending, including credit card revenues, improved in the third quarter, with the rate of decline slowing from the first half of the year, providing further evidence of some stability in lending volumes.


Insurance revenues were approximately 5% ahead of Q3 2008 and more than 15% ahead of the H1 run rate. This was driven largely by increasing visitor numbers. As noted in the interim statement, the sale of leadin the motor and home insurance channels was stopped at the beginning of 2009 to improve the customer experience having contributed approximately £0.7m in Q3 2008. 

The core motor insurance channel, the largest in the Insurance vertical, returned to mid single digit percentage growth in Q3, having declined over the first half of the year. Other Insurance channelsincluding home insurance and travel insurance, also grew strongly.


Revenues in the Travel vertical were 12% down on Q3 2008 and approximately 5% lower than the H1 run rateThis was primarily due to lower visitor numbers. The Group has continued to manage margin closely in the travel business in response to weakening market conditions.

The Group experienced similar trends to the first half of the year with the core package holiday market continuing to grow over the same period last year with "weekend break" type travel, including flights and hotels, remaining relatively weak. 

Home Services

Home Services revenues were 30% down on Q3 2008 and approximately 30% ahead of the  H1 run rate. Visitor numbers increased by approximately 50% over the same period last year, largely in the Group'shopping channel. Utility switching volumes in particular picked up in the third quarter as a number of consumers who had switched last year came off fixed deals, although were below those in Q3 2008 when energy prices spiked.

The Group has continued to invest in improving its products and services in Q3 2009 as outlined in its interim statement. Good progress has been made and we expect to deliver a number of significant improvements to our product offerings over the course of 2010 with beta releases commencing in Q4 2009. The first of these are enhanced shopping and vouchers sites which were successfully delivered in October. These will drive visitors to the site as consumers continue to seek to maximise their own spending power. 

As at 31st October 2009 the Group had net cash of £45.1m, reflecting the payment of the interim and special dividend, amounting to in aggregate £31.6m which were announced with our interim results and corporation tax payments on account of £4.8m since the half year.


As expected, trading in the first few weeks of Q4, typically the Group's weakest trading period, has been at least consistent with the trends seen in Q3. Consequently the outcome for the year as a whole remains in line with the Board's expectations

Peter Plumb, chief executive of, said:

" has made steady progress through the year and we have enjoyed a robust third quarter - our strongest trading quarter to date. Our efforts to ensure our marketing spend works harder has started to bring real results and the Peter Jones campaign has worked well, with visitor numbers up both on the same period last year and against the second quarter. Most importantly, our brand is in a stronger position than ever before.

"Our focus on managing costs this year has paid off and we are starting to see the benefits of our ongoing investment in technology.  Our new shopping and voucher sites launched in October and customers love the savings they can make using the channel. It will soon be joined by our new motor insurance site which is currently in beta test.  

"Overall, we are pleased with the performance in the year to date which is in line with the Board's expectations and remain confident that our sharp focus on delivery and the customer means that is better placed than ever to capitalise on its strengths when growth returns to our markets."

- ends -


For further information, please contact: Group PLC 01244-665700

Paul DoughtyChief Financial Officer

Ian Williams, Director of Communications

Tulchan Communications  020-7353-4200

Susanna Voyle

Tom Murray  


  • This interim management statement may contain forward-looking statements based on current expectations of, and assumptions and forecasts made by management. Forward looking statements involve known and unknown risks, assumptions, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Group to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward looking statements. Except as required by the Listing Rules and applicable law, the Group undertakes no obligation to update, revise or adjust any forward looking statements to reflect events or developments occurring after the date such statements are published.

  • The information in this release is based on management information.

This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange