Slumps Most in Four Years on Profit Warning

  • Revenue hurt by drop-off in customers switching energy
  • Price-comparison site’s stock loses half its annual gain

U.K. price-comparison site Group Plc warned its full-year profit outlook would be at the lower end of a consensus range, prompting its biggest stock decline in four years.

Moneysupermarket fell as much as 16 percent after a drop-off in customers switching energy providers hurt its first-half revenue. The shares traded 8.7 percent lower as of 9:34 a.m. in London, wiping off about half of 2017’s advance.

“The energy market continues to evolve and the lack of blockbuster energy deals from providers meant we didn’t collectively switch as many people as last year,” said Chief Executive Officer Mark Lewis.

First-half revenue increased 5 percent from a year earlier to 165.3 million pounds ($215 million). Sales from insurance switching at its website climbed 18 percent, tempering a 33 percent decline in revenue from home services.

“We think this is a company that is very well run and we like the management team, but we do have issues over the barriers to entry in the price comparison industry and the relative opacity of numbers,” Liberum Capital analysts led by Ian Whittaker said in a note Thursday.

Adjusted operating profit increased 3 percent to 55.2 million pounds in the first half. The interim dividend per share was 2.84 pence, up 3 percent.

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