Business

Zillow meets analyst expectations, mostly, following its Trulia deal

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Zillow reported fairly lukewarm results, though the online real estate company’s expectations for revenue increase. It’s not yet clear what kind of an impact the acquisition of rival Trulia will have in the long term — and this report didn’t shed any light.

Zillow reported $78.7 million in revenue with a loss per share of $0.05. Despite building revenue, the company lost a little bit more on earnings per share than expected.

Its stock went down a few percentage points, closing at $141.06.

Analysts expected Zillow to bring an average of $76.5 million in revenue, a growth of 62.1 percent year-over-year. They also expected a loss of $0.04 on earnings per share. In the last quarter the company’s revenue grew 70 percent year-over-year to $66.2 million.

Zillow made two acquisitions this quarter, both in July. It bought Retsly, a software company that processes real estate data from multiple listing services so that developers can use it in new applications (an indication that the company is trying to build out its client services).

Then in late July, the company said it would acquire Trulia, the second largest online real estate company in the country next to Zillow, for $3.5 billion in stock — creating the biggest online real estate service in the country. Before the announcement Trulia had roughly 53 million users in comparison to Zillow’s 83 million. Zillow says combining the two companies will save $100 million in costs by 2016. The deal hasn’t officially closed yet.

Also, the companies say their total revenue only accounts for a tiny slice of the big real estate pie, an estimated $12 billion industry. This means there’s either a lot of potential for growth or there’s a reason neither company has been able to get a bigger piece of the market.

Investors were certainly happy about the buy. Zillows stock reached an all-time high of $164.90 the day of the announcement. And as far as analysts are concerned, the general forecast for the next two quarters is good. Analysts estimate that by next quarter Zillow’s earnings per share will be up between $0.13 on the low-end, and $0.16 on the high-end. They also expect a significant revenue increase of 54.9 percent in the third quarter with continued growth in the fourth quarter. The Trulia merger could lead to a lot of growth for Zillow, if it continues to invest in new, diversified products.

Chances are those products will be mobile apps. Zillow and Trulia’s mobile users have eclipsed desktop users, according to recent ComScore findings. Already both companies have mobile apps for apartment rentals and home buying. Trulia relaunched its real estate listings app in February with an eye toward user friendliness and design. In addition to its buying and rental apps, Zillow has Digs, which is more of home improvement and design app. As its mobile audience continues to grow, we’ll likely see more products from Zillow in the mobile arena.

Still, Zillow’s growth depends on bringing in more real estate agents, without whom the site is nothing, as Rich Duprey at the Motley Fool points out.

Though the site did grow users this quarter, reaching an all time high of 89 million monthly users in July, Zillow might still have work to do.

Zillow offers a number of services for free, creating weak points in the company’s profitability, according to an article in the June issue of the Harvard Business Review. This includes offering free home listings that include a mention of the listing agent, a service it could easily charge for.

Zillow also has to contend with traditional listing services and free listings with the National Association of Realtors site as well as digital competitors like Redfin. The company may need to find a develop a refined way of capitalizing on the market if it is to truly succeed.

More information:

Trulia gives home buyers, sellers, owners and renters the inside scoop on properties, places and real estate professionals. Trulia has unique info on the areas people want to live that can’t be found anywhere else: users can learn ab... read more »

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