Auto Trader profits per car retailer rise 9.7% in H1

Auto Trader’s pre-tax profits rose 10% to £105.4 million as turnover rose by 7% to £165 million as the online marketplace returned H1 financial results which were “in line with market expectations”.

The Manchester-based business saw its profits from car dealers rise once again during the first half of 2017, with its monthly average revenue per retailer forecourt rising by £148 to £1,674 as the amount of physical car stock represented on its website increased by 3% to 451,000 cars.

Auto Trader conceded that the growth it experienced in online forecourt stock had been offset by a 1% decline in average retailer forecourts overall, with the number falling to 13,213 (H1 2016: 13,374), however.

And while audience engagement remains strong within the business with cross platform minutes per month up 1% to 594 million (H1 2016: 587 million), full page advert views per month were down 2% to 245 million (H1 2016: 250 million).

Auto Trader chief executive Trevor Mather said the results highlighted “the resilience of our business considering the slowdown in new car transactions and a flat used car market.”

He added: “We have delivered good growth in the first half, as we continue to create a more efficient marketplace for car buyers, manufacturers and retailers.

“Our business has continued to perform strongly, underpinned by the successful launch of our retailer advertising packages in April.

“The new packages provide additional products for all customers and offer new opportunities for retailers looking to compete more effectively on the marketplace.”

Auto Trader revealed in its results that it had continued to develop its new car proposition, including the launch of our new in-search product helping manufacturers to target car buyers more effectively.

Mather said: “We remain focused on improving the car buying and selling experience for consumers, who can now benefit from our free valuations and finance tools, thousands of dealer and car reviews, and will soon be able to search for their next car based on monthly finance payments.

“The board is confident of delivering its growth expectations for the remainder of the year.”

Zeus Capital markets analyst Mike Allen said that Auto Trader had shown a performance “in-line with expectations at the half year.”

He said that the business’ net debt has been reduced and the company has continued its’ rolling share buyback programme, but added: “Our view on the stock has not changed, and we continue to view BCA Marketplace as a better alternative to play the sector with genuine structural growth opportunities on a pan European basis.”

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