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Admiral Sets Sail for Foreign Waters As Profits Soar 23pc

Mar 6, 2007


NOT only has car insurer Admiral been an incredible investment for shareholders, but is good fortune is being spread far and wide.

Chief operating officer David Stevens, and his wife Heather, have donated Pounds 100m worth of shares to The Waterloo Foundation, a charitable organisation that they recently set up.

Their generosity is startling, though they will still be sitting on a share pile worth Pounds 100m.

Admiral's staff are also in the money. Since they were given free stock in the float, Admiral has surged from 275p to close up 13p at 1015p yesterday.

Chief executive Henry Engelhardt says: 'When we floated at 275p in September 2004, three pounds looked like an unimaginable mountain.'

Competitive quotes and slick customer service have enabled Admiral to run rings round its bigger rivals. Pre-tax profits jumped 23pc to Pounds 147m last year even though claims are rising at a faster rate than premiums., its independent website which allows consumers to shop around for the best quote, saw profits jump from Pounds 8.8m to Pounds 23.1m.

Luckily for Admiral, around 15pc of Confused's best buy recommendations point to Admiral, so Engelhardt is making the most of internet savvy shoppers.

He said: 'Somebody was going to set up a site like this, so we may as well have done it.' Confused gets a flat fee from every provider to whom a customer is directed.

Thanks to the bumper profits, shareholders will get dividends totalling 36.1p for last year, including a 14.4p special dividend. This is up from 24p last year.

Engelhart, who holds a stake of just above 15pc, will get a Pounds 14.6m windfall from the payout. Some 1,800 employees will get a further Pounds 3,000 worth of shares each as a reward for the second half results.

The insurer, whose brands also include internet brand Elephant and Diamond for women drivers, is branching into Germany, following its expansion into Spain last year.

Admiral's shares are on a heady rating, so another sharp jump upwards looks unlikely in the short term. But analysts rate the insurer as a quality company with a resilient lowcost model, so its premium status is deserved.

By looking overseas, Engelhardt is demonstrating he won't be resting on his laurels.

(c) 2007 Daily Mail; London (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

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