Aberdeen Surges After First-Half Earnings Beat Estimates

Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, Scotland’s largest money manager, rose to the highest in 12 years after first-half revenue and profit beat market estimates.

The shares climbed 8 percent, or 33.4 pence, to 450.5 pence in London trading, the highest since January 2001, adding about 400 million pounds ($620 million) to its market value and extending its gain this year to 23 percent. The Aberdeen, Scotland-based company was the best performer in the FTSE 100 Index and the Stoxx 600 index.

The company is “highly unlikely” to buy Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, which London-based Lloyds Banking Group Plc is looking to sell, Chief Executive Officer Martin Gilbert said today on a conference call.

“It would take something especially attractive for us to make a large acquisition,” he said. “Since we announced we weren’t going to do large acquisitions, the shares have risen fivefold.”

Aberdeen has been boosting profitability as clients buy higher-margin products while outflows have been from bond assets paying lower fees. The company, which has been seeking to stem inflows into its emerging-market funds, said it saw modest outflows from those funds in March after closing them to new U.S. clients and implementing introductory charges elsewhere.

Funds under management rose 13 percent to 212.3 billion pounds in the six months through March 31 from the start of the financial year.

Earnings Rise

Underlying first-half pretax profit rose 37 percent to 222.8 million pounds from 162.2 million pounds a year earlier, Aberdeen said in a statement. That beat the median estimate of 212 million pounds of five analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Adjusted earnings per share jumped 43 percent to 14.9 pence from 10.4 pence a year earlier, beating the median estimate of six analysts of 13.7 pence. First-half revenue rose 25 percent to 516 million pounds, also topping the median estimate of six analysts of 501 million pounds.

Aberdeen will look to share buybacks to return surplus capital to investors in addition to a progressive dividend policy, Gilbert said on the call. The buybacks will start once the company has a “comfortable level of headroom” over its required regulatory capital, it said in the statement. The first-half dividend was increased 36 percent to 6 pence a share.

Aberdeen had net new money of 4.4 billion pounds in the first half, including net inflows of 7.8 billion pounds into equity funds and 1.4 billion pounds into emerging-market debt funds.

Lloyds has hired Deutsche Bank AG to advise on a possible sale of Edinburgh-based SWIP, which oversees about 142 billion pounds, to boost its capital, Bloomberg reported April 18. The asset manager had a pretax profit of 108 million pounds last year, up from 99 million pounds in 2011.

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