Evolution joins rival Collins Stewart in early season profit

STOCKBROKER Collins Stewart said&nbsp;yesterday that it had enjoyed a profitable May after four consecutive months of breaking even, while rival Evolution also announced that it had stayed in the black.<br /><br />Collins Stewart&rsquo;s revenue reached &pound;57m for the first four months of the year, roughly unchanged on the previous year, as favourable exchange rates helped it defy difficult market conditions.<br /><br />Revenue was down nine per cent, excluding the company&rsquo;s US business, but cost reductions helped the business stay at breakeven.<br /><br />The company, led by&nbsp;chief executive Mark Brown, said financial conditions had improved slightly in recent months.<br /><br />But he added: &ldquo;We will continue to manage the business cautiously with a focus on cash management as the general market outlook remains uncertain.&rdquo;<br /><br />The group held &pound;77.5m in net cash at the end of April, up from &pound;57.8m a year ago and the head of wealth and fund management Neil Darke signalled that Collins Stewart might use its strong cash position to &ldquo;investigate growth opportunities&rdquo;.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Collins Stewart&rsquo;s rival Evolution said that it had traded profitably in 2009 and had also increased core recurring revenues.<br /><br />In a statement, Evolution said it had enjoyed &ldquo;very strong growth&rdquo; in fixed income revenue, where it hired 20 new staff, adding to the 45 employees it recently brought on board from Dresdner Kleinwort in its securities arm.