Shares in Woodford-backed Burford rocket by 29 per cent following profit surge

 
Alexandra Rogers
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The annual dividend at Burford rose 20%. (Source: Getty)

Shares at Burford Capital soared by nearly 29 per cent following a stellar set of financials that saw profits increase by more than 130 per cent.

The increase in shares at the time of writing came after the litigation funder announced that net profit after tax was up 130% from $115m (£82.4m) to $264.8m for the 2016/17 financial year, while operating profit increased 132% to $289m.

The company's income was up 109% to $341.2m, largely thanks to a 127% increase in income from investments.

Burford also enjoyed a 37.4% return on equity.

The annual dividend at Burford, which is backed by investors including star fund manager Neil Woodford and Invesco, rose 20% as the funder received $1.34bn worth of investments. Burford now has $3.3bn invested in and available for investment in legal finance.

Read more: Woodford-backed Burford considers bond issue after investing $1.3bn in 2017

Chairman of Burford Sir Peter Middleton said: "Burford has experienced another record year, its eighth consecutive year of significant growth. Burford continues to lead its growing and evolving industry and looks forward to continuing to innovate to meet its clients' ever-expanding needs. The board is grateful for the continued support of our shareholders and bondholders and is delighted to propose another increase in the dividend."

Chief executive officer of Burford Christopher Bogart added: "The past year saw an explosion of demand for Burford's capital from clients around the world, including from our expansions into Asia and Europe. We met that demand by raising incremental capital on our balance sheet and by making robust use of our new investment management business. We grew our team by 23 people so that we now field a team of more than 90, including more than 40 experienced lawyers, and we have by far the largest capital base in the business. We are excited to continue to lead the legal finance industry into the future."

A bond issuance that Burford considered in January following its investment of $1.3bn in legal cases closed a week later, raising $180m.

The total, more than triple the amount it ploughed into litigation financing in 2016, comes as Old Mutual recently upped its stake in Burford to become a top five investor.

Over the past year, Burford has taken a number of big-name cases onto its books. It invested $45m in a FTSE-listed company – understood to be BT – to fund current and future claims, and shift legal costs off the business's balance sheet.

It also pumped €30m (£27m) into Hausfeld, a German claimants' firm which is pursuing claims related to the Volkswagen emissions scandal, to help the firm establish a new office and keep pursuing cases.

Read more: Litigation funder takes aim at insurance business

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