Just week after its apology to the industry for ‘getting it wrong’ over payment deferrals, and a slashing of its rates by 75%, the pressures on Rightmove in the face of the Covid-19 downturn became evident last Friday when it announced the cancellation of its final dividend payment for the year 2019.
Rightmove’s statement to the City said:
“The strength of our balance sheet and business model has enabled the Board to act quickly to support our customers, as announced on 20 March, and we are taking appropriate measures to contain our costs and reinforce our financial position.
Given the uncertainties caused by the impact of COVID-19, the Board considers it prudent to cancel the proposed final dividend payment of 4.4p per share (£38.3m in total) for the year ended 31 December 2019. The dividend declaration will therefore be withdrawn from the AGM business on 4 May 2020. 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.
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.”
Rightmove shares lost 3.9% on the day to close at 470.10p.