Shares in online property listings site Rightmove (RMV) fell 3.8% to 470.7p as it cancelled its final dividend and withdrew earnings guidance with the UK housing market going into hibernation.

Coronavirus containment measures mean people will not be moving house in the near future while banks are pulling mortgages from the market at pace.

The company had been planning to pay a final dividend for 2019 of 4.4p per share.

'The board recognises the importance of the dividend to our shareholders and will consider the timing of the reinstatement of the share buyback programme and the quantum of any interim dividend for 2020 in due course,' the company said.

'In this period of unprecedented uncertainty, we are unable to quantify the impact of COVID-19 on our financial and trading performance at this stage. Accordingly, the group is suspending all existing financial guidance for 2020.

'The board is confident that the company has the financial capacity to withstand this challenging period.' The company ended 2019 with net cash of £36.3m.

On 18 March, Rightmove announced it was offering agency customers a payment deferral option to help mitigate pressure on their business caused by the coronavirus outbreak. It launched a payment deferral plan of £275 per month for up to six months for qualifying agents.

In a research note published earlier this week, Numis analyst Gareth Davies commented: ‘We feel measures taken by Rightmove make significant sense in the context of the long term. With cash on the balance sheet and strong cash generation the group is positioned to come out of the current troubles stronger than ever.’

 

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Issue Date: 27 Mar 2020