Countrywide warns on earnings as Brexit dents buyer confidence

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(Reuters) - Countrywide Plc said uncertainty around Britain's impending exit from the European Union had hit residential and commercial property markets, prompting the nation's largest estate agent to warn of a shortfall in its first-half earnings.

Countrywide said it now expects first-half adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and exceptional items to be about 5 million pounds lower than 2018.

The company had earlier forecast adjusted core earnings to be about 3 million pounds to 5 million pounds lower.

Countrywide, which was founded in 1986 and runs 60 high street brands including Hamptons International, Bairstow Eves and Bridgfords, said ongoing uncertainties surrounding Brexit had weighed heavily on consumer confidence as a whole.

"For Countrywide, this (Brexit) uncertainty is affecting the residential and commercial property markets, particularly in London and the South," the company said in a statement.

The cooling real estate market has compounded problems for the company, which has been working to recover from a botched 2015 restructuring that led to four profit warnings and a share issue.

Countrywide said measures to control costs would help in the second half of the year, adding it expects annual adjusted core earnings to be broadly in line with its expectations. In 2018, adjusted earnings had halved to 32.7 million pounds.

Last year, Countrywide launched a three-year plan to rebuild expertise and staffing levels in its sales and lettings and financial services businesses after its 2015 restructuring led to the loss of experienced staff.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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