(Alliance News) - Savills PLC on Thursday said its 2020 results will be at the top end of board forecasts, though the estate agent fell short of issuing guidance for the new year amid a rise in Covid-19 cases.
The FTSE 250 firm hailed its "resilient" trading in 2020, a year hit by virus restrictions. The housing market in the UK was forced to grind to a halt in March due to lockdown measures, though during every lockdown since, the industry has been spared.
"Thanks largely to excellent performances in the UK, Asia Pacific and Savills Investment Management, reflecting the strength of our less transactional service lines, the group anticipates that underlying results for the year to 31 December 2020 will be at the upper end of the board's expectations," Savills said.
For 2019, Savills reported underlying pretax profit of GBP143.4 million, flat on GBP143.7 million in 2018.
"Despite the backdrop of restrictions and uncertainty, the UK performed well across all business lines with notably strong performances from our Consultancy and Property Management businesses. Commercial transaction activities, particularly leasing, were significantly affected by the pandemic."
Its UK arm missed out on the Spring selling season due to lockdown measures, though Savills noted an "extraordinary rebound in activity from the end of May".
The Asia Pacific business performed "ahead of our original expectations", Savills noted, citing recoveries in mainland China.
In the US, where Savills is mainly focused on the commercial occupier leasing part of the market, Covid-19 had a "significant effect" on the business.
"In continental Europe and the Middle East, where our business is much more dependent upon transactional activity, Savills performed broadly in line with expectations in the context of a decline in the transaction volumes in some of the major markets," the company added.
Finally, Savills Investment Management traded ahead of internal expectations amid the launch of new funds and a generally "strong investment performance".
Looking ahead, Savills said: "Looking to the year ahead, with renewed lockdowns and substantial increases in infection rates in most markets, it is too early to predict the direction of market activity in the short term.
"The board considers it inappropriate to resume guidance at this stage. However, in general terms, we expect transactional activity to remain suppressed in the first half of 2021 with improvement commencing in some individual markets in the second quarter followed by progressive recovery through the second half of the year."
Savills shares were 2.0% higher at 1,004.00 pence each in London on Thursday morning.
By Eric Cunha; email@example.com
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