Countrywide delays reporting its results as moratorium kicks in

Countrywide and the Mortgage Advice Bureau have both delayed announcing their financial results in accordance with a moratorium recommended by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Countrywide – which has recently seen the sale of its commercial arm collapse, the departure of its chief operating officer before he even joined, and the decision by LSL not to proceed with a takeover – had been due to issue its results before the end of this month.

It had not given a date, but by its own timetable would have had to issue its results within the next week.

Countrywide said it “looks forward to issuing its results in due course”.

Yesterday, its share price rose over 7% to 56p.

Financial results not only give investors valuable information but usually say something about current performance, and contain auditors’ statements about firms’ prospects as going concerns over the next 12 months.

The FCA says that in the current crisis, it is difficult for investors to be given reliable information and has asked for at least a two-week delay.

The Mortgage Advice Bureau, which largely does business through estate agents, has also observed the moratorium.

It should have published its full year results for 2019 yesterday. Instead, it provided a remarkably detailed update.

In it, it said that last year’s revenue was up 17% to £143.7m, with pre-tax profits up 13% to £17.7m.

It had 1,341 advisers last year, up from 1,130 in 2018, with market share of new mortgage lending up by a fifth at 5.7%. Numbers of mortgage advisers have since increased to 1,474 as at March 20.

Reporting on events since the coronavirus pandemic appeared in the UK, MAB says there has been “a noticeable slowdown” and warns of “an inevitable disruption to trading in the coming months and an associated impact on our results for the full year”.

It expects a “considerable reduction” in house purchases and related mortgage activity, and expects an impact on its adviser numbers.

However it says that the pandemic has resulted in a greater awareness of protection products.

Chief executive Peter Brodnicki said that the group had drawn down the full £12m limit on its revolving credit facility on March 20.

He said: “During this pandemic our priority is to redeploy our resources where possible to focus on lead generation, telephone advice and remote working.

“We remain very optimistic about MAB’s growth prospects in the medium to long term and intend to be in a strong position to react quickly and take full advantage of the opportunities that will present themselves in the future.”

MAB’s share price rose strongly on the update, ending over 14% up at 500p. The shares had been falling sharply since the end of last month when they hit 800p.

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