H&T profits fuelled by soaring gold price

Pawnbroker H&T said it expected full-year results to be above the top end of current market expectations, driven mainly by surging gold prices that boosted its first-half pretax profit.

Spot gold prices soared above $1,910, scoring a record top for a fourth consecutive session, as persistent worries about global economic growth burnished bullion's safe-haven appeal.

H&T, whose services also include cheque cashing, payday advances and unsecured loans, raised its interim dividend by seven per cent to 3.75 pence.

The company, which started as Harvey & Thompson with a branch in Vauxhall Bridge Road in 1897, currently has 150 stores, including 11 opened during the first half. The company said it expected to open a total of 25 stores this year.

January-June pretax profit was £10.3m ($16.9m), compared with £9.6m a year ago.

H&T, which gets 60 per cent of its business from pawnbroking, said its first-half pledge book rose 10.5 percent to £41.2m. Pawn service charge climbed 14 per cent to 13.2 million pounds.

H&T shares, which have risen by nearly 13 per cent over the past three months, closed at 368 pence on Monday on the London Stock Exchange.