Moneysupermarket profits as Britons seek more online deals

Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:53am EST

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(Reuters) - Price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com Group PLC said its full-year profit more than doubled as more consumers used its online services, boosting performance particularly in the company's insurance and money segments.

Moneysupermarket, whose website had 140 million visitors last year, said 2012 revenue and earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were about 15 percent ahead of year-ago levels.

The company said trading in its money and insurance verticals continued to be strong, while travel revenue reflected the tough underlying market.

"2012 is shaping up to be a really tough year for customers," Chief Executive Peter Plumb said. "More people are buying a growing number of products via our site."

"There's strong headroom in all of our markets going forward."

The British firm, which offers services such as travel, insurance and shopping deals, said pretax profit for 2011 was 24.3 million pounds ($38.49 million), up from 11 million pounds last year.

The company should see sustained superior organic revenue growth, driven by growing UK internet usage, an established brand leveraged across verticals, and good execution, Credit Suisse's Simon Baker said in a note.

Revenue climbed 22 percent to 181 million pounds during the year, aided by a strong performance in its core insurance segment and its money vertical that offers deals on products like loans, credit cards and mortgages.

Like its peers, Moneysupermarket has advertised heavily to build its brand in Britain. It spent 77.5 million pounds on marketing in 2011.

The firm, which sponsored the "Britain's Got Talent" TV show on ITV in 2011, offers services on products ranging from broadband and mobile phones to electricity bills and home insurance.

It increased its total dividend payout to 8.46 pence for the year -- including a special dividend of 3.93 pence -- from a dividend of 3.83 pence a year earlier.

The company's shares were trading up 5 percent at 127.6 pence at 1008 GMT on Tuesday making them one of the top percentage gainers on the FTSE 250 Midcap Index. ($1 = 0.6313 British pounds)

(Reporting by Brenton Cordeiro in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon)

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