Insurance broker looks for pick-up

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STEEL Burrill Jones, the insurance broker, believes that constraints on underwriting capacity may ease next year as premium rates continue to rise.

Severe capacity problems in the insurance market hit SBJ's reinsurance arm. Its brokerage income last year fell from pounds 16.6m to pounds 11m, and profits were 'well below' 1991 levels.

The group's wholesale broking income more than doubled to pounds 18.2m on the back of its acquisition of Regis Low. However, this energy-broking specialist turned in a disappointing result after the loss of an important account.

Regis Low and Nelson Steavenson Bloodstock, another acquisition, together contributed pounds 3.2m towards SBJ's pre-tax profits of pounds 13.3m. This was a 21 per cent improvement on 1991's pounds 11m, restated for the FRS3 accounting standard.

Earnings fell 12 per cent to 18.1p a share. As forecast at the interims, SBJ is paying a final dividend of 9p to maintain the total at 13.25p.

With pounds 16.7m from retail insurance broking and consultancy, total brokerage rose 15 per cent to pounds 47.3m. Expenses climbed 17 per cent to pounds 43.9m.

Roman Cizdyn, insurance analyst at Smith New Court, expects similar profits and an unchanged dividend this year.