Benfield waits for growth

Shares in reinsurance broker Benfield Group slipped despite the company forecasting a more encouraging outlook for 2006 than previously estimated, with revenue growth of over 20% expected for the group in 2006.

Benfield added that while the trading margin is also expected to improve significantly, it is not expected to regain the level reported for 2004 until the benefits of the current investment programme have been realised in full. The share price was at 349.25p as Insurance Times went to press.

Shares in AIM listed Broker Network Holdings saw frenzied activity when the group reported an 84% increase in profit before tax amortisation. Shares initially rose almost 5% on the day.

However, the company may have unsettled shareholders with the announcement of its intention to shift the emphasis of its acquisition programme to target larger non-Broker Network members. Prices reversed and fell over 10% before finally closing at the same price they started at when trading began that day.

Shares in the company are currently at 118p.

The pullback in insurance stocks across the board continued this week with Royal & SunAlliance sliding further to 119p. According to reports, a negative research report from Merrill Lynch prompted investors to steer clear of the insurance sector.

Hiscox fell almost 10% on the week to 228.50p and JLT gave ground to 469p.