Having attempted a recovery earlier in the year shares in London-focused estate agent Foxtons (FOXT) are back on the floor and heading in the direction of all-time lows. Down 5.8% to 56.5p the stock is close to its absolute nadir of around 44p.

This follows a trading update which follows the gloomy pattern set in recent months and years.

In hindsight the IPO of Foxtons looks particularly ill-timed. The company was floated on the Main Market in 2013 at 230p and shareholders have endured a steady fall in the value of their investment as the London property market has slowed. This culminated in its first annual loss, reported in February.

No matter how bright and shiny its branches are and how innovative its approach is, the company is stuck like King Canute fighting forlornly against a market tide which is crashing against it.

Or in Foxtons’ own words ‘Sales volumes continue to be at record low levels and ongoing Brexit uncertainty is impacting consumer confidence.’

The lettings business at least is in reasonable shape with revenue ticking up slightly year-on-year. The company is also reshuffling the pack management-wise with Marks & Spencer (MKS) alumni Richard Harris coming in to replace Mark Berry as finance director.

The one blessing is the company’s robust balance sheet, with net cash of £15m, which suggests it can hold out for an eventual recovery. Though it could be a long wait.

In a recent piece of research, investment Berenberg commented: ‘While the near-term outlook is tough, Foxtons remains the premier operator in the sector, in our view, and stands poised to benefit from any recovery in transactions.’

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Issue Date: 20 May 2019