Move Inc. sees revenue uptick fueled by lead gen and referral businesses


Realtor.com parent Move Inc.’s revenue rose 9 percent year over year, which was less than the gains the company saw during the previous two quarters, according to an earnings call Thursday.

Realtor.com parent company Move Inc. saw its revenue tick upward during the final months of 2021, though the gains fell short of the company’s performance during the previous two quarters.

At the same time, Move’s owner New Corp overall saw record revenue between the beginning of October and the end of December.

In total, Move raked in $169 million in revenue during the last three months of 2021, according to a Thursday earnings report from News Corp. That’s a year-over-year increase of 9 percent. The company attributed the increase in revenue to improvements with both its lead generation and referral businesses.

The report added that “the referral model benefited from record average home values and higher referral fees, partially offset by lower transaction volume.”

While any revenue uptick is generally good news for a company, Move had managed to post 30 percent year-over-year growth during the prior quarter. And one quarter before that, the company’s revenue had climbed 68 percent.

Move also revealed Thursday that monthly average unique users of Realtor.com hit 85 million during the quarter, which represents an increase of 6 percent compared to a year prior.

In total, News Corps’ digital real estate services — which includes both Move and the Australia-based REA Group — saw revenue increase 35 percent year-over-year during the final months of 2021.

Robert Thomson

On a call with investors Thursday afternoon, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson noted that Realtor.com in particular spent the quarter reinvesting in its business, despite notably low housing inventory. He also said during the call that Realtor.com’s traffic growth has exceeded that of rival Zillow for “23 straight months.” He followed the comment with a brief dig at Zillow’s iBuying stumble last fall, which saw the company move to shutter Zillow Offers.

“We were not mired in the capricious cul-de-sac of house flipping,” Thomson said.

Thomson was also bullish on the future of News Corps’ real estate businesses, noting that “we see much macro strength ahead in a market that is far from being full digitized.” He also said News Corp is poised to take advantage of real estate’s digitization in the “short, medium and long term.”

Move CEO David Doctorow was similarly upbeat, writing in a blog post that coincided with the earnings report that “there’s reason to be optimistic about the possibilities in front of us.”

David Doctorow

“We’re transforming our business with a passionate focus on consumer experience and customer service, and our approach is working, as evidenced by our strong Q2 revenue and audience growth,” Doctorow added in the blog post.

Thursday’s earnings report further noted that Move’s revenue gains during the final months of 2021 were “partially offset by a $4 million negative impact from the divestiture of” CRM maker Top Producer.

Looking at the broader company, News Corp’s revenue hit $2.72 billion during the quarter, which represents a year-over-year increase of 13 percent. That handily beat analysts’ forecasts of a 7 percent year-over-year increase.

During his call with investors Thursday, Thomson noted that the company’s revenue also hit an all-time high point during the quarter.

“Our businesses are flourishing,” Thomson added.

Going into Thursday’s earnings report, News Corp stock was trading around $22.50 a share. That was up very slightly for the day, and compared to one year ago, though it was down from a high point last May when the company’s share price was nearing $28.

However, in after hours trading the company’s share price shot up over the course of Thomson’s call with investors. By the time Thomson finished his prepared remarks, the price had risen more than $1.50 per share.

Credit: Google

News Corp had a market cap of about $13.3 billion as of Thursday afternoon.

News Corp has been on something of a streak for its last two earnings reports. In November, the company reported that its revenue increased 18 percent year-over-year during the period between July 2021 and September 2021.

In the prior quarter, News Corp revenue jumped 30 percent.

In his blog post Thursday, Doctorow ultimately touted Move’s “open marketplace” and search experience that “helps put homes in the context of the larger community.” He suggested such features will be of increasing importance as younger millennial and Gen Z buyers enter the market.

“As we envision what’s possible in the proptech space in 2022 and beyond,” Doctorow concluded, “everyone at Realtor.com is focused on innovations that empower renters, buyers and sellers at every step of the way along their journey, and that give agents and brokers the tools and resources they need to bring people home.”

Developing…

Update: This post was updated after publication with additional information from News Corps’ earnings report, as well as from a call between company executives and investors.

Email Jim Dalrymple II





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