Investment Column: Don't plough in to Jardine Lloyd Thompson just yet

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The Independent Online

Jardine Lloyd Thompson's public relations adviser calls to point out that Steve McGill, its chief executive, demonstrated confidence in the prospects for his insurance broking firm by spending £432,000 on its shares yesterday. He was also given £683,000 of free shares, though, so was quids in, even before the stock jumped 9 per cent to 445.5p on impressive results.

Jardine Lloyd Thompson's public relations adviser calls to point out that Steve McGill, its chief executive, demonstrated confidence in the prospects for his insurance broking firm by spending £432,000 on its shares yesterday. He was also given £683,000 of free shares, though, so was quids in, even before the stock jumped 9 per cent to 445.5p on impressive results.

The company has been under the cosh as a result of falling premium rates, of which JLT gets a percentage cut when it brings together an insurer with a client wanting to insure. The falling dollar also hasn't helped, and there have also been operational cock-ups in its Risk Solutions business, which is expanding in the US and into new lines of business. That division is being split up to make it more manageable.

The bears have picnicked on JLT since we advised banking profits at 632p last year, but JLT is not going to fall apart as insurance rates soften. Two-thirds of revenues come from negotiated fees, rather than percentages, and there is good growth in pensions administration, its sideline business. Shareholders have probably missed their chance to sell. But sentiment towards the shares is unlikely to turn until it can show its internal shake-up is helping it win market share, so new investors should hang fire, too.

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