FUND platform Hargreaves Lansdown yesterday said strong demand from retail investors for shares in Royal Mail helped deliver a rise in revenues and new business. The company, which operates as an online investment supermarket where DIY investors can buy funds, said revenues rose 13 per cent year on year for six months ending December to £158m. The initial public offering of shares in Royal Mail helped drive the increase, adding 27,000 new customers to Hargreaves' investor base. In total, 77,000 new customers joined during the period, taking total numbers to 584,000 - giving it the biggest share of the fund platform market. "We welcomed 77,000 new clients during the period, easily the most for any six months in our history, and more than the first six months of 2011, 2012 and 2013 combined," chief executive Ian Gorham said. Pre-tax profits rose 11 per cent to £104.1m. The firm also saw a 70 per cent increase in new business flows, to £2.8bn during the period. However, Hargreaves warned the period could be an anomaly in the company's results. "This year may turn out to be a little unusual, given the exceptional Royal Mail event that occurred in the first half of the year," Gorham added. Shares fell over 10 per cent due to investor profit taking. By Michael Bow ANALYST VIEWSWHAT DID YOU MAKE OF THE RESULTS? JAMES HAMILTON NUMISOperationally Hargreaves Lansdown continues to perform well, dominating the direct to retail platform space with a 32 per cent market share. This market continues to develop at a rapid pace and consequently we expect the group to continue to deliver strong growth. JONATHAN JACKSON KILLIK & CO On retail distribution review, management have noted that pricing changes "may take time for retail investors to adjust to", but management are pleased with the initial transition, with a positive start in January and further new initiatives planned for the second half to improve the group's value proposition. ROBIN SAVAGE CANACCORD GENUITYThese results show very impressive momentum, which should help the second half of 2014. Forecasts for full year 2015 will be impacted by the change in Hargreaves Lansdown's revenue streams. Guidance on the impact of RDR2 rules suggests headwinds will be minimal. We are sceptical. " "
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