Admiral's share price hits record highs and leads the FTSE 100 higher after strong results

 
Billy Bambrough
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Car insurance has been a big driver of Admirals profit gains (Source: Getty)

Insurance group Admiral has posted a six per cent rise in pre-tax profit to £377m which sending its shares to a record high and leading the FTSE 100 to fresh highs for the year.

Higher car insurance rates were one of the biggest drivers of profit for the company, as Admiral pulled in more customers but lowing its prices to pull in more customers in a highly competitive market.

Admiral’s chief executive Henry Engelhardt, who is due to stand down in May this year, said:

I would describe 2015 as: the year of the uncut diamond.

When the year started many people thought it would turn out to be a lump of coal. But no, 2015 was no lumpy coal year.

Competition due to the rise of price comparison sites has kept a tight lid on prices in the past few years, with car insurance premiums of 8 percent over 2015, and seven per cent in the last quarter of 2015 compared with the previous quarter, according to the Association of British Insurers.

Admiral, owner of price comparison site Confused.com and US site Compare.com as well as the Elephant, Diamond and Bell brands, saw a rise in customer numbers by nine per cent to 4.43m.

3 March 2016 @ 12:00pmAdmiral Group (ADM)

The company's combined operating ratio strengthened to 85.6 per cent from 86.5 per cent the previous year. A level below 100 percent indicates an underwriting profit.

Admiral beat forecasts on its dividend, saying it would pay a final dividend of 63.4p and total dividend of 114.4p per share, up 16 per cent from a year earlier.

"Admiral continues to benefit from strongly rising prices, rising reserve releases, higher capital buffer returned to shareholders and extremely low investment risk," analysts at Bernstein said in a note.

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