St James's First-Half Profits Fall to Pounds 39.5m

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ST JAMES'S Place Capital posted a steep drop in first-half profits yesterday as wealthy investors shied away from volatile equity investments, but the upmarket life assurer's shares rose on relief it did not do worse.

The company, which is majority owned by the HBOS banking group, said operating profits from core businesses excluding affiliates fell to pounds 39.5m in the six months to 30 June, compared with a restated pounds 56.9m in the same period last year.

Analysts' forecasts ranged from pounds 32.1m to pounds 40.0m, having been cut after a profit warning earlier in July.

"While it is understandable that some people have chosen to hold back on committing their money to new investments in the very unsettled conditions of the past six months, high quality advice on financial planning is at least as important in difficult times as in more normal circumstances," Sir Mark Weinberg, the chairman, said.

St James's shares, which have underperformed the UK's life assurance sector by 39 per cent over the past year, climbed 2p to 125p yesterday. …