SouFun falls amid price incentives for homebuyers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 September, 2014, 5:34am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 September, 2014, 6:16am

SouFun shares are posting the longest streak of losses since 2011 in US trading on concern the new price incentives that the Chinese real estate website is offering homebuyers will erode profits.

SouFun started a promotion last week offering buyers of houses through its website as much as 150,000 yuan (HK$188,874) in assistance to cover their mortgage interest, renovation and management fees, details posted on the Beijing-based company's website show. The incentives are part of an effort to lure buyers as home sales on the mainland plunged 10.5 per cent in the first seven months of the year. The mainland's broadest measure of new credit dropped 40 per cent in August from a year earlier.

"The weakness in the property market forced SouFun to offer this type of promotion to encourage people to buy homes, which will pressure its margins," said Henry Guo, an analyst at JG Capital. "This business model won't work out well."

SouFun's American depositary receipts dropped 4.6 per cent to US$9.64 in New York on Wednesday, pushing the decline over eight consecutive days of losses to 23 per cent. SouFun's smaller peer E-House China fell for a fifth day, closing the session at a two-month low. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index slipped less than 0.1 per cent to 113.93.

The eight-day drop pushed SouFun's ADRs down to the lowest level since July 9. E-House fell 3.5 per cent to US$9.80. E-House's Leju unit slumped 1.9 per cent to US$13.59.

SouFun's third-quarter profit margin will fall to 41 per cent from 56 per cent in the same period last year, according to the average estimate in an analyst survey. Second-quarter revenue increased 17 per cent, after rising 33 per cent in the prior three months.

More than 10,000 home buyers have submitted applications to SouFun for the incentives, according to the information on its website. SouFun plans to offer the programme to customers in 84 mainland cities, China News Service reported on September 15.

The People's Bank of China began to provide the mainland's biggest lenders with 500 billion yuan of financing on Tuesday to bolster loan growth, according to a government official familiar with the matter. The move comes after government data showed factory output in August rose the least since the 2008 global financial crisis, while fixed-asset investment and retail sales missed estimates.

The iShares China Large-Cap ETF, the largest Chinese exchange-traded fund in the US, slipped 0.7 per cent to US$40.34, a six-week low. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 0.1 per cent after the US Federal Reserve pledged to keep borrowing costs low for a "considerable time" after its asset-purchase programme ends.

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