Canadian Underwriter

Western Financial net income up 37% for 2003

April 6, 2004   by Canadian Underwriter

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Net income for brokerage and bank Western Financial Group (TSX: WES) was up 37% in 2003, to $2.1 million from $1.6 million in 2002, being its own projections. This translates to earnings per share of $0.11 last year, versus $0.08 the year prior.
The company increased revenue by 17% year-on-year, to $32.7 million from $28.0 million. EBITDA earnings for 2003 are $6.1 million, up from the $5.2 million posted in 2002.
“We are pleased to report that the steady growth in our customer base and strong same-store sales we experienced in 2003 provided results that were ahead of our expectations,” says Scott Tannas, Western’s president and CEO, noting the company had expected earnings of $1.6-2.0 million.
The company slowed down it aggressive acquisition strategy in 2003, buying just three new agencies and focusing on integrating acquisitions made in the prior two years. Same-store revenue was up 13.8% last year, and same-store customer count grew 4.0%.
The company was also focused last year on the start-up of its Bank West operations, beginning in January. Revenue for the banking segment was $285,000, producing a pre-tax loss of $795,000. However, the company reports net new asset growth is averaging over $2 million per month. Tannas says he is pleased with the bank’s growth in its first year, and the company’s ability to maintain strong profit growth while launching the new entity.
Looking ahead, the company plans to return to acquisition mode, adding up to 20 new agencies in 2004. It will also work towards establishing a mutual fund business, The Western Mutual Fund Co. Ltd.

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