Sturge ahead as Lloyd's agencies curb losses

HIGHER profits from stockbroking and lower losses at its insurance agencies helped Sturge to lift profits before tax to pounds 493,000 in the six months to 31 March, up from pounds 325,000.

Sturge, one of the biggest agencies in the Lloyd's insurance market, saw its income from underwriting fall to pounds 4.9m from pounds 7.8m after a reduction in capacity under management. David Coleridge, chairman, said that although total capacity had fallen, the 13 Sturge syndicates trading forward into 1994 had increased capacity from pounds 515m to pounds 662m. Of this, pounds 60m was corporate capital.

Ten of the 13 syndicates made profits in 1991, the latest year for which results have been reported. Cost controls helped to reduce the overall operating loss of the insurance agencies to pounds 1.8m from pounds 2m. Profit commission of pounds 2.8m from 1991 will be received in the second half of the financial year.

Sturge made a further provision of pounds 500,000 to cover potential costs of resolving disputes with names - individual investors in Lloyd's - bringing its total provisions to pounds 4.8m. Sturge's members' agencies, RW Sturge and Donner, are involved in a number of claims.

Wise Speke, the stockbroking subsidiary, increased its turnover 26 per cent to pounds 7.9m, while operating profits rose 44 per cent to pounds 1.4m.

The results were in line with analysts' expectations. Sturge held its interim dividend at 1p, after sharp cuts in the past two years. The shares fell 2p to 58p.