Countrywide ups profit expectations on housing volumes uplift

Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Countrywide Holdings, (CWD.L), Britain's largest estate agent by revenue, said it had increased its profit expectations for 2013 and 2014 after forecasting a strong uplift in housing transaction volumes.

The company, whose 46 brands include Bairstow Eves and Hamptons International, said on Thursday market data pointing to a rise in mortgage approvals and transactions indicated that Britain's housing recovery was gaining momentum.

"The continuation of recent trends...is expected to result in a meaningful uplift in market volumes for the second half of 2013 with momentum continuing into 2014," it said.

"The benefit of these trends and the anticipated contribution from Lambert Smith Hampton have increased our profit expectations for both 2013 and 2014 as the year has progressed," it said. The company bought estate agency LSH in September.

A spokeswoman for the company said its views were broadly in line with that of Jefferies analysts, who upgraded their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation by 6.6 percent to 80 million pounds for full year 2013; and by 15 percent to 111.7 million pounds for 2014.

Countrywide said it expects gross mortgage lending in 2013 to be between 165-175 billion pounds, compared to 143 billion pounds in 2012, based on discussions with major banks.

The company, whose shares have risen by 40 percent since it floated in March, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of Britain's housing recovery, which has been fuelled in recent months by government measures to help aspiring home owners purchase houses with deposits as small as five percent.

It said total income for the three-month period to September 30 rose 12 percent compared to the previous year to 154.9 million pounds.

Shares in Countrywide rose 2.8 percent to 579 pence at 0805 GMT on Thursday.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh, Editing by Paul Sandle)

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