UPDATE 2-Moneysupermarket.com makes solid start to 2013

Tue Mar 5, 2013 7:00am EST

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* Strong demand for insurance boosts 2012 results

* Says earnings up 30 percent in start to 2013

LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) - Price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com said it had made a solid start to 2013 as strong demand for cheaper insurance, travel and loan deals helped the group to post a 26 percent rise in 2012 earnings.

Chief Executive Peter Plumb said with the country at risk of its third recession since 2008, Britons were increasingly comparing prices to help reduce their monthly bills.

"The UK has caught the money saving bug," Plumb said. "We helped customers save over 1 billion pounds in 2012 as households, faced with the uncertain outlook, sought savings on their bills.

"January and February have been good months for us and we expect another record year."

Moneysupermarket, which gets paid by providers to sell goods to consumers, said its Money section, which offers credit cards, current accounts and mortgages, had drawn 40.4 million visitors, up 15 percent.

Its Insurance section drew 32.7 million visitors, up 14 percent increase, for services including home, dental and life insurance, while its Travel arm drew 44 million, up 9 percent.

Its Home Services arm, which offers deals on broadband, mobile telephony and vouchers, drew in 28.8 million visitors, up 12 percent.

The company said one area of weakness came in the second half of the year within the Money arm, as banks turned to the Bank of England's 'Funding for Lending' scheme to find funding, rather than the retail deposits market.

Shares in the group were up 0.6 percent, valuing the firm at 1.1 billion pounds. The stock has risen by 70 percent in the last 12 months.

Regarding 2013, the company said revenue for January and February was up 11 percent and core earnings up more than 30 percent on the same period a year ago.

Core earnings for 2012 rose 26 percent to 66.5 million pounds ($100 million) on revenue of 204.8 million, up 13 percent. Both were in line with guidance.

It increased its final dividend by 30 percent to 3.94 pence.

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