Strong trading but the stock has had its day

WITH a moniker reserved for the highest-serving officers in the Navy, you’d expect Admiral to be sailing ahead of its competitors. At first glance, yesterday’s numbers don’t disappoint. It was UK motoring, where insurance rates grew 14 per cent, which put in the strongest performance. Customer numbers were up 23 per cent while the combined ratio – a key indicator of performance for insurers – held stable at 89 per cent (numbers under 100 indicate profitably). However, the main driver was growth in profit commission (the amount Admiral earns from sharing in the profits of the firms it underwrites for); this was up from £23m to £37m, but doesn’t reflect Admiral’s performance, just improving conditions for everyone in the industry.

Elsewhere things were less rosy.? profit fell from £11m to £9m after rival Compare the Market’s meerkat campaign won the marketing battle. Already trading on a hefty 20.3 times earnings, these shares have had their day. Investors should reduce.