Profits rise at Irish Permanent

IRISH PERMANENT, Ireland's biggest home loan provider, yesterday reported a higher-than-expected rise in first half pre-tax profit and forecast strong growth ahead on the back of a buoyant economy.

"The Irish economy is performing exceptionally well and, of course, 90 per cent of our business is focused on the Irish market," Roy Douglas, the chief executive, said. "We anticipate continuing strong growth." The financial services group reported a 20.5 per cent rise in first-half pre-tax profit to 31.3m Irish pounds, and a 26.4 per cent increase in earnings per share to 24.4p, both exceeding analysts' expectations.