Spread betting firm IG Group has reported a 35 percent decline in share price, which it claims is the result of the extreme volatility in the markets. IG said clients were becoming "increasingly accustomed" to the wild market swings of the past 18 months, leading to smaller jumps in revenues on more volatile days.
Shares tumbled as much as 35 percent as UK revenues fell 7 percent to GBP 31.5 million in the quarter to February 28 – wiping more than GBP 300 million off the firm's value. Australian revenues were also down and the group's Japanese business, FXOnline, has been badly dented by the country's swift slump into recession.
The firm allows punters to bet on the direction of shares and markets as well as the outcome of sporting events. Spread betting requires a small upfront stake, but potential gains and losses are magnified.
A clampdown on credit controls since October – including automated margin calls and quicker closing-out of loss-making punters – has also dampened revenues, as well as tough trading comparisons with the same period last year. The company is reducing its exposure to customers with large long-term exposure to single stocks, and said that third-quarter charges were due largely to clients with positions in place before the "more stringent" controls were enacted.
The firm, which has 550 staff and more than 32 000 customers in the UK, revealed that new account openings remained strong over the quarter at 18 700.
"It remains difficult to predict future trends in volatility or customer reaction to changing market and economic conditions," a company statement said.