ALBEMARLE & BOND HOLDINGS PLC Interim results

ALBEMARLE & BOND HOLDINGS PLC Interim results

Financial Highlights

  • Gross profits for the Group increased by 22% to £36.5m (2010: £29.8m)
  • Pledge book up 7% in last six months to £38.3 million as at 31 December 2011 (30 June 2011: £35.9m) consolidating exceptionally strong prior year growth
  • Pawnbroking gross profits up 14% over the same period last year to £17.2m (2010: £15.1m)
  • Volumes by value of gold bought increased by 56% compared to the same period last year and total Gold Buying gross profits were up by 88% to £12.0m (2010: £6.4m)
  • Profit before tax increased by 12% to £12.1m (2010: £10.7m) after absorbing a 27% increase in costs relating to the store expansion programme and investment in central infrastructure, and combined with a lower corporate tax rate this led to basic EPS of 16.27p, an increase of 15%
  • Increased interim dividend up 9% to 3.00p (2010: 2.75p)
  • Robust financial position backed by strong underlying cash flow and new banking facilities with £31m of headroom as at 31 December 2011

Operational Highlights

  • Market leading pawn lending practices resulting in unredeemed rates approaching record low levels
  • Increased demand for pawnbroking loans from both individuals and small businesses
  • A strong Gold Buying performance reflecting good volume growth and operational controls
  • Good performance from Speedloan with 44% increase in gross profit as a result of an improved collections performance and capitalising on strong demand for small instalment loans
  • Payday Anyway, our new debit card based payday loan product, launched in July 2011 is starting to establish a good customer base

New stores

  • Traded from 215 outlets as at 31 December 2011 (30 June 2011: 197); 174 full line stores and c.40 gold buying pop-up  shops throughout the period
  • 14 full line stores opened in H1; on track to open 25 new stores for the full year
  • 48 trading stores now open in and around the M25, with H2 openings heavily weighted to this region
  • Pledge book growth in new stores are on average ahead of expectations with these pledge books on track to reach maturity within 5 years

Outlook

  • Continued strong demand for small flexible pawn loans with customers choosing to borrow in line with their ability to repay
  • Profit contribution from new stores is increasing as our store profile matures
  • Gold Buying volumes show strong growth at improved margins
  • Retail remains challenging particularly reflecting the higher price of gold
  • Overall trading is in line with management expectations

Barry Stevenson, Chief Executive, further commented: "We are pleased to be reporting on another successful period together with continued investment to support long term growth. Meeting the short term cash needs of our customer base is a specialised business and we believe the high redemption level across our pawnbroking business is a good indicator of how we have improved understanding of our customers' requirements and tailored products to suit their needs."

"Two years into the new store opening programme we are now in a good position to assess the performance of these new stores and, as expected, Gold Buying has halved the time to break even. More importantly pledge book growth across the new outlets is ahead of original forecasts."

"We are now nearly half-way through our Five Year Growth Plan and I believe we have made good progress against the targets set. The overall trading environment has remained positive and we are therefore well positioned to capitalise further on the market opportunity."

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