Employee retention scheme specialist Personal Group reported a fall in half year profit but says demand for its core products remains robust.
The employee benefits and insurance firm added that trading for the current period remains in line with the board's expectations.
Pre-tax profit fell to £4.1m for the six months to June 30th 2012 from £4.8m previously. Revenue for the period increased by 1.4% to £13.8m. EPS, before goodwill impairment, rose 6.1% to 12.2p per share.
Subscribe to MoneyWeek
Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE
Profit before tax and before goodwill impairment increased by 3.3% to £4.9m while claims incurred have remained in line with the board's expectations.
Chief Executive Mark Scanlon commented: "We are reporting our strongest ever half year operating results, with new business generation at a consistently high level."
Chairman Chris Curling added: "Demand for our core products remains strong and trading for the current period remains in line with the board's expectations. Much work is under-way to improve our customer offering and to strengthen our competitive advantage. The board therefore remains optimistic for the prospects of the group."
Personal group has undertaken a series of initiatives to improve our customer experience, sharpen its product offering and to strengthen its operating systems, all with a view to building a sound platform for longer-term growth, it explained.
Scanlon told Sharecast that he was encouraged by the strong levels of new business in a difficult environment.
"Customer engagement is a priority for us," Scanlon asserted, adding that equipping customer-facing staff with iPads has led to a sharp increase in on-the-spot subscriptions.
Personal Group is rather old school in that it still sends company reps out to talk face-to-face with customers to suss out their requirements, but its use of technology, in the form of Apple's tablet device, is very modern.
"The great thing about the iPad is that it enables instant sign-up. We can show them the benefits of our services and they can sign-up there and then. It's early days, yet, but we've seen sign-ups go up to fifty or sixty per cent from ten to fifteen previously," Scanlon added.
As for the economic picture, the employment figures are holding up surprisingly well during the recession, and Scanlon confirmed to Sharecast that Personal Group's overall model is seeing no change in employment levels.
"We've like to improve our attrition rate, obviously. We've had one or two companies running into problems but nothing, touch wood, too significant," he concluded.
An interim dividend of 8.9p per share has been recommended, up from 8.7p a year earlier.
October’s NS&I Premium Bond winners revealed - have you scooped £1 million?
Two lucky NS&I Premium Bond winners are now millionaires this October. Find out here you are one of them
By Kalpana Fitzpatrick Published
Nationwide: House prices fall across the UK at fastest pace since 2009
House prices drop 5.3% on the year as high borrowing costs hit prospective buyers.
By Pedro Gonçalves Published