Admiral, the FTSE 100 car insurance group, enjoyed a more-than-expected 21 per cent jump in first-half pre-tax profit as the number of customers increased 23 per cent to almost 2.4 million during the period.
The Cardiff-based insurer said that it pocketed a pre-tax profit of £126.9 million during the first six months of the year to June, as compared with £105.3 million in the corresponding period of last year. The result was slightly higher than the average forecast of £124.3 million.
Admiral raised premium rates by around 14 per cent during the first half and expanded its customer base.
Admiral’s chief executive Henry Engelhardt said that they were seeing 2010 as the year of great opportunity. He said that the company was planning to expand into the household insurance business most probably next year.
Speaking on oversees expansion plans, Mr. Engelhardt added, “In the first part of next year we plan to launch an insurance operation in France as the final part of our five-year strategic plan.”
In the UK, Admiral also operates the Confused. com price comparision website. It runs web-based insurance operations in Italy through ConTe. it, in Germany through AdmiralDirekt. de, and in Spain through Balumba. es.
Shares in Admiral jumped 5 per cent to 1,546 pence at 0837 GMT on Wednesday, making it the highest percentage gainer in the FTSE 100 index. The company announced an increase 18 per cent in its interim dividend to 32.6 pence-a-share.