Moneysupermarket takes a knock from Google switch

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The Independent Online

Moneysupermarket yesterday highlighted how vulnerable online businesses are to the whims of Google, saying fewer people logged on to the price comparison site between May and June after the internet giant made changes to its search engine.

Its shares fell 3.5p to 200.1p after the company, known for its lurid TV adverts, said a change in Google's algorithms meant insurance revenues and visitor numbers had slowed in the second quarter. The company said it is working on regaining its prominent placing in the search results for the term "insurance".

Despite the setback, Moneysupermarket said it is on track to meet its half-year revenue target of £112m, around 10 per cent more than the same period last year. Analysts at Canaccord Genuity also reaffirmed their buy rating on the firm in the wake of the news.

In March Moneysupermarket warned that the Government's Funding for Lending scheme was slowing down revenue growth by pushing down rates on savings products.

Last month, the site's founder, Simon Nixon, set out plans to sell a 15 per cent stake in the company worth £165m in his first major stake sale since the firm floated in 2007.

Moneysupermarket said the sale is to "diversify his personal holdings" and "increase liquidity in the company's shares".

The group will make a special dividend payment of £70m to shareholders on 26 July, as previously announced.