Protection Market Slump Sees Friends Provident Shares Drop ; BUSINESS
Daley, James, The Independent (London, England)
Shares in Friends Provident, the FTSE 100 life assurer, took their biggest one-day plunge in more than four years yesterday, after the company warned it may struggle to meet the ambitious growth targets it set itself at the end of last year.
In October, the group announced plans to triple new business profits to between [pound]180m and [pound]200m by 2008. However, publishing his first set of results as chief executive yesterday, Philip Moore said a sluggish protection sector combined with recent volatility in UK equity markets may work against the firm over the coming months.
Mr Moore - who took over as chief executive from Keith Satchell at the start of the year, having served three years as finance director - emphasised that the company remained "committed" to achieving the ambitious profit targets. However, he said the company had promised to give the market a full update on its progress at every quarter.
"The protection market is not showing as much growth as we'd thought or hoped," he said. "So in order to support [our targets] we need to take more market share than we'd thought."
Mr Moore said that while he did not believe investor confidence had yet been affected by the recent volatility in equity markets, he believed that it could suffer if markets took further plunge. …