Brit misses profit expectations

LLOYD&rsquo;S of London insurer Brit said yesterday its pre-tax profits came in below analyst expectations at &pound;64.9m in the first half of the year, excluding currency fluctuations.<br /><br />The figure was a 24.1 per cent rise on the &pound;52.3m pre-tax profit booked in the first half of 2008, but fell short of analyst expectations of &pound;70m.<br /><br />Including the negative effects of foreign exchange fluctuations during the first half, the firm actually posted a loss of &pound;8.7m compared to analyst hopes of an &pound;18.5m profit.<br /><br />Gross written premiums at the group, a measure of revenues from insurance contracts, rose by 30.2 per cent to &pound;983m in the first six months of the year, the firm said.<br /><br />But taking currency movements into account this figure was only 11.6 per cent, it added.<br /><br />Brit made a return on its investments of &pound;59.2m during the period, equal to 1.8 per cent of growth on its portfolio, compared to just &pound;2.1m last year, thanks to the less volatile state of markets so far this year.<br /><br />Chief executive Dane Douetil issued a bullish statement alongside the results.<br /><br />&ldquo;Underwriting margins are improving across most of the business,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />&ldquo;We continue to invest in our future and the quality of our underwriting capability with eight new senior underwriters joining us during the last six months.&rdquo;<br /><br />The interim dividend at the group remained unchanged compared with the same period last year, at 7.5p per share, broadly in line with the level of payout analysts had been hoping for.<br /><br />Shares of the firm rose by 3.5 per cent on the results statement to close at 207p.