Fitch fortunes grow with big profit boost

Fitch is looking to “continued growth” following the publication last week of results that showed it had sustained its return to profit throughout 1995.

“We have made an encouraging start to 1996,” says Martin Beck, chairman and chief executive officer of the publicly quoted global group. “The plan is for continued growth in all areas of the business.”

That growth is not likely to mean dramatic change though. Work is expanding, particularly in Scandinavia, the Far East and Australia, but there are no plans to open new offices.

According to Beck, Fitch is gaining an average of four staff a month – three in the US and one in London – and this is set to continue. Growth has been most evident in the Boston office, which is moving premises to accommodate its staff of around 100. The San Francisco office set up last September now has 16 staff and will soon have 25, says Beck.

Fitch reported pre-tax profits of more than 1.5m for the year to end-December 1995, compared with 28 000 in 1994. Turnover was up 19 per cent to 16.43m. But there was no dividend for shareholders, more than 30 per cent of whom are Fitch staff. Beck and European chief executive Jean-François Bentz, however, are keen to to pay dividends as soon as possible.

Beck says the 297 per cent increase in profit before interest – from 465 000 in 1994 to 1.85m – is not likely to be repeated. Such a high percentage rise is only achievable “when you start with such a low figure”, he says.

US business contributed 12.48m to turnover – a rise of 2.14m – yielding profit before interest of 1.45m. Turnover in the UK also rose, from 3.51m in 1994 to 3.95m. Pre-tax profits were 546 000 in 1995, compared with a loss of 321 000 in 1994.

Fitch’s share price rose to 29p on publication of the results and stood at 331/2p as Design Week went to press.

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