UK shipbroking giant Clarksons has had a strong start to the year, with profit for the first six months up by around 30% compared to the same period in 2020.

The London-listed broker booked profit before tax of £27.3m ($37.8m), compared to £20.9m in the first half of last year.

Earnings per share rose to 63.5 pence, compared to 50.6 pence in early 2020.

The result has allowed Clarksons to declare an interim dividend of 27 pence per share, two pence more than in the first half of last year.

Clarksons chief executive Andi Case said the big increase in profit was “aided by a robust performance in our broking division and a strong recovery from our financial division”.

“I am also excited by the progress and momentum that our Sea/ platform is building,” he added, referring to the Clarksons-backed digital platform.

Shareholders reacted favourably to the news and Clarksons' share price increased by just over 3% by 10am in London to 3,365 pence.

By division

Overall revenue rose by 5.4% year on year to reach £190.1m for the six-month period.

Clarksons' broking division made £900,000 more profit in the first half of 2021 at £30.3m, compared to the same period last year.

But the firm said this result was negatively impacted by the sterling-dollar exchange rate, which was 9% lower than last year on average during the six months.

“Broking has continued to grow its significant forward orderbook as spot business concluded in the first half is invoiced on delivery, or end of voyage, in the second half and beyond,” Case added in Clarksons’ financial report.

A rebound in activity in capital markets has also benefitted Clarksons’ financial division.

Case described the project finance markets during the first half of the year as “buoyant” and said Clarksons’ real-estate team continued the growth seen in the second half of 2020.

This led to the finance division booking profit of £5.3m on revenues of £24.7m in the first half, up from a £1.6m loss on revenue of £13.3m in the same period last year.

Case wrote in the report that the outlook for Clarksons’ business going forward is “strong”.

“Improving demand/supply dynamics is positive to the rate environment across shipping, offshore and renewables markets, driven by the green transition, increasing demand for bulk commodities and the global economic recovery after the Covid-19-induced recession,” he said.