Clarkson PLC (LON:CKN) saw its shares sink on Monday as the shipping services group’s cautious comments on the 2019 outlook offset a smaller-than-expected decline in 2018 profits.
For the year ending 31 December 2018, the FTSE 250-listed firm reported a fall in underlying pre-tax profit to £45.3mmln, down from £50.2mln a year earlier, but ahead of consensus expectations for £44.4mln.
The company saw its overall revenue rise to £337.6mln, up from £324mln in 2017, with an increase in broking division revenue to £251.7mln from £238.9mln countering a drop in financial division revenue to £46.1mln from £52.0mln.
Andi Case, Clarkson’s chief executive officer, commented: "Geo-political uncertainty and natural disasters are currently affecting global sentiment and exchange rates, which in part offsets the better visibility from an improved forward order book.
“These headwinds are having an impact, in particular within our financial segment, but as the year progresses, we expect these to diminish and the impact from changes in regulation around sulphur emissions to begin.”
He added: “Consequently, we believe that the strength and breadth of Clarksons, enhanced by technology platforms which continue to be rolled out to our clients, positions the Group well for the future. The Board remains confident about the longer-term outlook for Clarksons."
Reflecting this confidence, the group hiked its final dividend to 51p per share, up from 50p a year earlier, giving a total 2018 dividend of 75p, by 3% from 2017’s 73p payout.
In mid-morning trading, Clarkson shares were 8.5% lower at 2,370p.