Auto Trader shareholders get £148m; results hit record

Shares of Manchester-based FTSE 100 firm Auto Trader Group plc rose about 14% on Thursday after it announced it achieved its highest ever six-monthly revenue and profits in the six months to September 30.

Auto Trader said its revenue rose 82% to £215.4 million and profit before tax soared 127% to £150 million.

The Manchester firm said it returned £148.4 million to shareholders in the first half through £100.4 million of share buy-backs and dividends of £48 million.

Interim dividend declared is 2.7p.

Auto Trader shares rose 12% to around £6.97 to give the firm a current stock market value of about £6.6 billion.

Auto Trader CEO Nathan Coe said: The number of people using Auto Trader to buy their next car is at record levels, more retailers are choosing to partner with us, and our competitive position has strengthened.”

In its outlook, Auto Trader said: “The board is confident for the second half of the year.

“The majority of revenues are recurring in nature and most of the significant growth events for the year have been successfully delivered in the first half.

“Notable events were our annual pricing event, the launch and initial uptake of new products, which have occurred alongside low levels of retailer churn.

For the full year, we now expect modest year on year growth in retailer forecourt numbers and low double-digit ARPR growth on FY20 levels.

“The stock lever, which shows the year on year movement, is likely to represent a small headwind for the full year, as we lap a strong second half last year.

Operating profit margins for the full year are expected to be in line with FY20 levels.”