Zillow stock steadies after plunge

Zillow’s shares are working their way back up following a whopping 27% tumble

Zillow stock steadies after plunge

Following a whopping 27 percent plunge the day after management lowered its forecast, Zillow Group Inc.’s shares are working their way back up, helped along by insider buying over the past two weeks.

Board members and a top executive have purchased more than 1.5 million shares since Nov. 16, filings show. The largest came from board member Jay Hoag, who bought 850,000 shares last week. And Chairman Richard Barton and Chief Financial Officer Allen Parker both added to their stakes.

The purchases came as Zillow shares crashed almost 60 percent from its record high in June through Nov. 19, when it hit its recent low. The real estate listings-website cut its forecast for a second straight quarter earlier this month as it shifts its business model, and the dim earnings added to concerns from investors already spooked by the loss of momentum in the housing market, where borrowing costs keep climbing.

Yet, one analyst sees a ray of light ahead. Craig-Hallum’s Bradley Berning says investors have apparently failed to focus on Zillow’s new seller-lead generation model, where Zillow provides agents and brokerages with leads gathered from its home quoting system. The Seattle-based company would receive a cut of each seller-agent commission when a house is successfully sold and closed, he said. The model is being test run.

Zillow has said it’s too early to share results, but Berning sees great potential, writing in a note this week that the new business could drive $1 billion revenue upside by 2021.

"I think this new channel got largely missed," he said Friday in a phone interview.