IFG beats forecasts with 20.6c eps
THE FINANCIAL services firm IFG Group yesterday reported a drop in profits for 2009, but overall their results were seen as positive by the market.
IFG beat expectations with adjusted earnings per share of 20.6c. This was a drop of 10pc year-on-year but was ahead of analysts' estimates of between 18.7c and 19.8c per share
Operating profit of €17.9m was down just over €3m on 2008. This was slightly under estimates of €18.6m and was blamed on a weak sterling and ongoing losses in Ireland.
The dividend remains unchanged at 3.63c per share.
The firm is now focusing on its international businesses as the Irish sector continues to struggle. Mortgage lending in Ireland now stands at about one fifth of 2007 levels and this has been reflected in the results. Profits in Ireland were €593,000, down from more than €2.1m the previous year.
In contrast to its Irish interests, IFG's international business has maintained its performance levels. The acquisition of the UK firm James Hay Holdings, which was completed this month, was described by chief executive Mark Bourke as "the most important thing we have ever done".
"The acquisition of James Hay gives us instant brand recognition in that market and we immediately become the number one firm in the self invested personal pension (SIPP) business," he added.
The UK businesses contributed just over €5.2m in 2009 compared to €6.8m in 2008.
Analysts welcomed the purchase as James Hay's contribution is expected to help reduce net debt to zero by the end of 2011 -- ahead of the early 2013 that was predicted.
Profits from IFG's business outside the UK and Ireland remained consistent, returning an operating profit of €12.15m, down very slightly from 2008.
Bloxham Stockbrokers described them as "a very strong set of results" while Oliver Gilvarry at Dolmen was positive about the firm's position. "The strong market positions and the strong balance sheet leaves the group well positioned for 2010," he said. The share traded down slightly at €1.37.