Panmure Gordon boss boasts of first quarter profitability despite record loss for 2015 and Brexit headwinds

Billy Bambrough
Follow Billy
Markets Stabilise After Turbulence Last Week
Staff numbers at Panmure Gordon have taken a hit as chief executive Patric Johnson reigns in costs (Source: Getty)

Panmure Gordon’s chief executive has played down the company’s record £16.7m loss for 2015, while boasting of a return to profitability in the mid cap specialists first quarter.

The broker warned though that market volatility and fears over the approaching European Union membership referendum could weigh on its performance.

“Headwinds aside, we’re in good shape,” chief executive Patric Johnson, who took over from ousted former boss Philip Wale earlier this year, told City A.M.

Described as a "disappointing" year by Johnson, former CEO Philip Wale was shown the door by investors in February, shortly after chairman Ed Warner announced he will be stepping down in May.

Read more: Panmure Gordon share price: Greece and China chaos hit Panmure profit

Regulatory pressure, the rising fear of a British exit from the European Union and ongoing warnings about the stability of financial markets have all added to Johnson's concerns over the firms future.

"Regulation is something that remains front of mind," said Johnson, "but Panmure's strategy has always been to make sure we're on the right side of it, and that is something we continue to do."

Yesterday Johnson announced the firm's decision not to post a dividend for 2015, echoing sentiments he had made previously that the company had returned to paying out to shareholders too soon after their profitable first quarter last year.

"A dividend is usually, though not always, a sign of a profitable company. When we get back to that stage the dividend will return," Johnson said.

During the year, Panmure Gordon’s client numbers reached an all-time high of 152, up from 123 at the end of 2014. Johnson warned client numbers may not stay at record levels, in line with the strategy to focus on the core business.

“We don’t concentrate on numbers, it’s about quality,” Johnson said.

Read more: Panmure Gordon Brexiter David Buik will be cutting back on his Spanish holidays if the UK votes to leave the EU

Over the last year Panmure’s share price lost 50 per cent of value and the firm was forced to take on a £5m loan in February from QInvest, the Qatari investors that in 2009 bought a majority stake.

In an effort to cut costs, Panmure has axed 40 jobs in the last year, bringing staff numbers to just over 100 and shuttered an office in Zurich.