Move and REA Group raked in $18 million, but increased investments in Opcity diminished News Corp.’s overall quarterly revenue by 8 percent, according to an earnings call Thursday.
News Corp., the parent company of Move’s realtor.com and Australia-based REA Group, on Thursday released its quarterly and fiscal full-year 2019 earnings results. Revenues at Move boasted year-over-year increases for the fourth quarter of 2019 and fiscal full-year 2019.
Move’s quarterly 2019 revenue increased 3 percent year-over-year to $123 million, and the fiscal full-year revenues increased 7 percent to $484 million. News Corp. executives said the acquisition of real estate lead generation technology platform Opcity was responsible for Move’s real estate revenue growth, which increased by 8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 and 16 percent for the full year.
Collectively, Move and REA Group’s revenue in the full fiscal year increased 2 percent year-over-year.
Overall, News Corp. experienced an 8 percent decline to $2.69 billion in its fourth quarter revenues, partially due to fluctuations in foreign currency and lower revenues in the company’s book publishing segment. But the company’s full-year results boasted a 12 percent year-over-year increase in revenues from $9.02 to $10.07 billion.
“Both REA and realtor.com strengthened their competitive positions through strategic acquisitions and product enhancements, despite headwinds in housing markets,” read the statement. “We note with interest the recent signs of improvement in the U.S. housing environment, with lead volume improving, record traffic to realtor.com and an uptick in pending home sales.”
Despite the 8 percent decline, News Corp.’s revenues did surpass analysts’ expectations by $20 million — something that may bolster the company’s stock market value, which wavered after Q3 2019’s earnings report failed to meet predictions.
A half-hour before Thursday’s earnings report, News Corp. stock was trading for $13.36 per share — $0.24 above the previous day’s closing value. The company’s stock value dropped from the $12 to the $11-range after Q3 2019’s earnings report failed to meet projections. The stock began to rebound in June with stocks trading in the $13 range, something the company last saw for a brief period in late February to early March 2019.
News Corp. failed to meet expectations during its previous earnings call in May with revenue clocking in at $2.46 billion — $40 million shy of what analysts predicted. Revenue from the company’s digital real estate services also dropped three percent year-over-year. Despite those shortcomings, News Corp. posted a five percent increase in revenues from realtor.com’s parent company, Move, and a seven percent increase in realtor.com’s unique users.
In 2018, News Corp. acquired Opcity, a real estate lead generation technology platform that matches vetted buyers and sellers with real estate agents in real time, for $210 million. The company said Opcity would allow realtor.com to offer agents two lead generation experiences: A traditional pipeline where agents could vet and convert leads themselves or a concierge model where Opcity could vet leads for them.
What was thought to be a sure hit, hit some snags in March when the company began solely offering Opcity in select markets. Agents immediately voiced concerns, saying the new model could negatively impact their sales numbers, since they’d only receive Opcity-approved leads.
Since then, realtor.com has experienced a few shake-ups, including eliminating its entire Arizona sales staff and consolidating its California sales teams, and losing one of its major lead generation clients — both of which were attributed to the acquisition of Opcity and the resulting changes. Lastly, Move CEO Ryan O’Hara left the company in June, putting the company in acting CEO Tracey Fellows hands.
During the call, News Corp. revealed their plans for FY 2020, saying they’d continue to streamline realtor.com’s operations and continue improving the Opcity platform. The company said Opcity has yielded more engagement and better leads for their clients, but that they’d learned from March’s test with Opcity-only markets and that, from now on, would only offer traditional and Opcity’s concierge-based model.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story attributed News Corp.’s fourth quarter decline to “higher costs associated with further investment in Opcity following the acquisition,” when it was, in fact, due to foreign currency fluctuations and diminished revenue from the company’s book publishing segment.
But, Opcity’s higher investment costs and foreign currency fluctuations did cause digital real estate services’ Q4 Segment EBITDA to decline 15 percent. We apologize for the mistake.