Companies roundup: House prices and ITV Britbox sale

House prices, ITV (ITV), Wincanton (WIN), Rightmove (RMV), Tritax Big Box (BBOX), Dar Global (DAR) and Babcock International (BAB)

House prices have risen for the first time in over a year, and also beat expectations for both annual and monthly gains. According to lender Nationwide, the average UK home rose 1.2 per cent in value over the year to February, to £260,420, as mortgage costs fell due to banks’ expectation that the base rate has peaked.

The rise marks the first annual increase since January 2023 and defies predictions from economists polled by Reuters, who forecast a 0.7 per cent annual increase. House prices rose 0.7 per cent on a seasonally adjusted monthly basis for February, compared with Reuters economists’ prediction of 0.3 per cent.

Nationwide added that house prices are now around 3 per cent lower on a seasonally adjusted basis than at the all-time high recorded in the summer of 2022. ML

ITV sells Britbox International stake 

Shares in ITV (ITV) jumped by over 15 per cent following news that it had sold off its entire stake in BritBox International for £255mn in cash. Net proceeds, including loan repayments, accrued dividends and tax, are expected to reach £235mn and will be used to buy back shares. The buyback scheme will start “imminently” after ITV’s full-year results are published on 7 March.

The TV company has sold its 50 per cent interest in the streaming service – which broadcasts shows such as Father Brown in North America – back to BBC Studios. ITV said it is now “focusing on supercharging” ITVX, its own advertiser-funded streaming platform. JS

Read more: ITV’s valuation case

Rightmove’s share price slides despite earnings and dividend bump

Rightmove’s (RMV) share price sank 4 per cent in early trading despite the housing market website’s sales and dividend growing by a tenth.

Revenue rose to £364mn from £333mn for the last calendar year, in line with analyst expectations, as estate agents spent more money to market their properties in a weaker market. Earnings per share grew from 23.4p to 24.5p, covering the dividend over four times, which rose from 5.2p to 5.7p.

The market reaction comes amid high expectations for the stock, which trades at 21 times the consensus forecast earnings for 2024. Total memberships dropped 1 per cent, meaning the revenue rise came from a smaller group paying more, as rival website OnTheMarket looks to eat into Rightmove’s market share following its takeover by US property data giant CoStar (US:CSGP). ML

Dar Global posts profit in maiden results but remains illiquid

Luxury home developer Dar Global (DAR) posted an $81.2mn (£64.3mn) pre-tax profit in its first full-year results since it listed in the largest UK real estate IPO in years. However, the stock remains highly illiquid despite pledges to increase the free float.

For the 2023 calendar year, it posted $361mn in revenue and $0.23 earnings per share. It trades at $3.68, a high premium to its $2.60 net asset value per share as of 31 December. However, the price has hardly moved since listing in February last year due to the limited free float available, with 88 per cent owned by Dar Global’s backer, parent company Dar Al Arkan Real Estate.

Chief executive Ziad ElChaar told Investors’ Chronicle that it is hoping to increase the free float over the next 12 to 18 months to around 30 to 35 per cent. “It is one of the priorities of the company,” he said, adding that it is looking to partner with developers outside of the Middle East to attract more institutional investment. ML

Read more: Can Dar Global live up to its own lavish expectations?