Shipping services firm Clarksons has announced a rise in profits and revenues for the first half of 2017, hailing "early signs of recovery" in some of the major shipping markets.
Shares edged up in early trading, rising 1.4 per cent to 2,680p at the time of writing.
The company posted a six per cent rise in revenue to £156.8m, while profit before tax rose 25 per cent from last year's £17.5m to £21.9m.
Underlying earnings per share were up nine per cent to 57.5p, and Clarkson's interim dividend increased to 23p per share, up from 22p per share this time last year.
Clarksons also said it had a "robust balance sheet" with £71.4m of net funds, up on £46.7m in June last year. It's now debt free following the repayment of loan notes in June.
Why it's interesting
The FTSE 250 firm last year had warned of "materially" lower profits. In March, underlying profits before tax had dipped 11 per cent as the firm faced "lower freight rates and asset values during the year", and added in the short-term shipping markets were likely to remain challenging.
Today's update was chirpier news for the ship broker. It said while overall freight levels were low, there were "very early signs of recovery" in some of the major shipping markets.
What the company said
Clarksons chief executive Andi Case said:
As we see signs of a rebalancing across some of the shipping markets, we are optimistic in our ability to capitalise on the upturn in the markets when it occurs, while maintaining the strength of the underlying business.
Nevertheless, in the short-term, low activity in the new building market and a predominance of spot over longer-term period business continues to limit forward visibility of revenues.
Our solid cash position means that irrespective of market conditions, we are able to invest in the business for future growth, deliver increasing returns to shareholders and take advantage of strategic opportunities as they arise.
Read more: Clarkson hits choppy waters