International broking and other shipping services firm Braemar Shipping Services issued its results for the year ended 28 February on Tuesday, reporting a 93% increase in underlying operating profit to £8.2m, which was at the top of its previously-announced range.
The AIM-traded firm said its revenue was down slightly at at £133.4m, from £135.9m, while it saw underlying basic earnings per share growth of 97% to 21.14p.
Its board confirmed a final dividend of 10.0p, giving an increased full year dividend of 15.0p, compared to 14.0p a year earlier.
That represented an increased dividend cover of 1.4
Net debt stood at £2.4m as at 28 February, swinging from net cash of £7.1m 12 months earlier, following the successful acquisitions of Braemar Naves Corporate Finance and Braemar Atlantic Brokers Holdings.
"We expect world trade and global shipping demand to continue to grow, in line with economic growth projections, notwithstanding recent political developments over trade," said Braemar chairman David Moorhouse CBE.
"At this point in the cycle, tanker freight rates are relatively low and, with the growth in the fleet, we are unlikely to see a recovery before next year.
"The dry bulk market has been recovering and we expect this to continue through the year."
In the medium term, Moorhouse said it was quite likely that the market would see an increase in demolition as new environmental legislation took effect by 2020.
"Our financial division is expected to increase its contribution to the group's underlying operating profits due to the full year effect of ownership and the success it is having in developing its advisory business.
"We expect the technical and logistics divisions to continue their recent recovery trends."
Moorhouse said the board was waiting to see what impact, if any, Brexit could have on Braemar's logistics business over the medium term.
"Overall the group is well structured and balanced following the investments made this year and we are better equipped to reap reward through the cycle."