JLT sees soft rates ending

INSURANCE broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT) pushed into emerging Asian and Latin American markets to deliver double-digit profit growth in 2010, it said yesterday.

JLT beat market expectations with underlying pre-tax profit growth of 24 per cent, to £130.1m from £104.8m in 2009. Underlying earnings per share rose 20 per cent to 40.5p from 33.8p the previous year as it shrugged off the insurance market’s current low premium environment.

Chief executive Dominic Burke told City A.M. he felt the insurance market was close to “an inflection point” as companies started to show signs associated with returning to premium rises.

“We are seeing some important indicators to lead us to suggest we may be coming to the end of the softer market,” he said. “We are seeing people write business for market share, and comments about companies underwriting without discipline.

“There seems to be evidence indicating that the market is getting to a turning point. We see this inflection point coming because the current model is not sustainable.”

JLT’s total revenue increased 21 per cent to £746.3m from £619.3m in 2009 including seven per cent organic revenue growth, seven per cent growth from acquisitions and seven per cent due to exchange rate benefits.

Revenues rose 17 per cent to £576.6m in its risk and insurance division, which accounts for almost 80 per cent of its business through its retail and London market lines.

Its retail business grew 23 per cent as Latin American revenues rose 44 per cent while Asia revenues rose 26 per cent. In contrast, its European arm remained flat at one per cent growth.

“We are very excited about our performance in developing markets,” Burke said.