Admiral profit rise fuelled by UK growth

Motor insurer Admiral said its 2011 profit rose by a better-than-expected 13 percent, with continued strong growth in customer numbers in the UK outweighing a wider loss at its fledgling international operations.

Admiral, which insures one in ten cars on Britain's roads, made a pre-tax profit of £299m last year, it said on Wednesday, up from £266m in 2010, and ahead of the £289m expected by analysts in a company poll.

Analysts had initially pencilled in a 22 per cent profit rise, but slashed their forecasts in November when Admiral warned it had been hit by a jump in personal injury claims, an industry-wide trend it had previously avoided.

"It has been a disappointing year," Admiral chief executive Henry Engelhardt said in a statement.

"Not because it was a bad year, but because so much more was expected."

Admiral, which also trades under the Bell, Diamond and Elephant brands and owns price comparison site Confused.com, is paying a dividend for the year of 75.6 pence per share, an increase of 11 percent.