Lower bad debt charges boosted full-year profits at British sub-prime lender Provident Financial
and the company said on Tuesday that it was confident of further growth in 2012.

Provident Financial, which lends to people who cannot get credit from mainstream banks and whose roots date back to 1880, reported pretax profits for the year ending December 2011 of 162.1 million pounds, up 12.2 percent from 2010.

Its earnings were lifted by a reduction in impairment charges for loans that have had to be written off, and the profits also came in ahead of the average 160 million pound average consensus forecast given by Thomson Reuters Starmine.

The company proposed a final dividend of 42.30 pence, making a total dividend for the year of 69 pence, up 8.7 percent from last year.

The group has started 2012 with the benefit of very sound credit quality in both businesses. Accordingly, the consumer credit division has seen a robust collections performance through the first two months of the year and Vanquis Bank has made a strong start to 2012, Chief Executive Peter Crook said in a statement.

The group is in a position to make further good progress in 2012, he added.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)