IFG beats market expectations

IFG has reported a solid set of results for 2007, beating market expectations with adjusted earnings per share (EPS) up 43% to 24.17 cents.

The diversified financial services group increased operating profits by 42% to €22 million.

Turnover for the group rose by 20% to €128.8m while the group will pay a total dividend for the year of 3.63c, up 10% on the previous year.

IFG said total assets under administration and advice stood at €59 billion while the two acquisitions made during the year have been integrated into its operations.

Upbeat about future prospects, chief executive Mark Bourke, said the fall in sterling could hurt its sterling earnings by between 10% to 15% in the current year — equivalent to about 3c off the EPS. In the current year he expects the EPS to come in at the mid point of its range of forecasts.

“We believe that even in today’s challenging business environment, with our strategy, the geographical spread of our businesses and the repeat nature of our income streams, we will attain the ambitious targets we have set ourselves,” he said.

On future strategy he said the group has the finances to spend €40m on acquisitions, should the right opportunities present, but that amount may not be spent. It will depend on circumstances he added, saying that the group is talking to a number of prospective takeover targets, that could in time result in a deal or deals being done.

The biggest arm of the business is the group’s internationally based trustee and corporate services where profit shot up 54% to €9.7m.

In 2008 Bourke said the group’s ambition is to develop its advisory capacity in both fund administration and family office services for the ultra high net worth client.

Within IFG’s financial services division, the group said, that in relation to its pensioner trustee British business, while consolidation of this market has begun, opportunities for acquisitions are still scarce.

In Britain its financial services operations grew operating profit 162% to €3.8m, driven primarily by fee-based advisory business Saunderson House.

In Ireland, Mortgage & Title Insurance Ireland, the property service division, grew its contribution by 11% to €5.2m. However, the amount of mortgage lending fell during the period.

Davy Stockbrokers said the results and outlook augured well for the group and it has maintained its 230 cents price target on the shares, which closed up over 2% at 199 cents in Dublin yesterday.

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