Numis upbeat despite falling to yearly loss

INVESTMENT bank and stockbroker Numis yesterday reported a slip into the red last year due to the credit crunch, but said its new financial year had got off to an &ldquo;excellent&rdquo; start.<br /><br />Numis racked up &pound;14.7m of investment losses and charges in the year to 30&nbsp; September, leading to a statutory pre-tax loss of &pound;10.5m versus a profit of &pound;16.1m a year ago.<br /><br />The group had a tough first half after the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers and the ensuing hiatus in market activity and lending.<br /><br />However, a return of confidence in the second six months boosted trading.<br /><br />Chief executive Oliver Hemsley said: &ldquo;We are encouraged by the improved market conditions during the second half.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our focus on maintaining a strong balance sheet has allowed us to build our franchise even through the most difficult market conditions experienced during the early part of the year.<br /><br />&ldquo;Our pipeline of transactions looks healthy and we are confident, markets permitting, that the business should perform well in the future.&rdquo;<br /><br />Numis has 122 corporate clients with an average market capitalisation of more than &pound;200m, higher than it was at the market peak in 2007. Combined institutional commission and trading revenues rose six per cent.<br /><br />The group&rsquo;s focus on cost-cutting and keeping a strong balance sheet was helping it weather the downturn, Hemsley said.<br /><br />It had also made an excellent start to its new financial year, raising &pound;353m of equity funds for corporate customers.<br /><br />Adjusted pre-tax profit halved to &pound;4.2m against &pound;8.4m previously on a slight fall in revenues to &pound;47.5m from &pound;50.7m beforehand.<br /><br />The group&rsquo;s balance sheet comprised net assets of &pound;113.8m against &pound;118.4m a year ago.<br /><br />Numis raised its final dividend by 10 per cent to 5.5p.