Arden Partners, the Birmingham stockbroker that brought its shares to the AIM market in July 2006, yesterday reported underlying profits of £5.5 million up 18 per cent for the year to October, its first full year as a listed company.

That was stripping out the effect of a £318,000 charge, the cost of pursuing a potential acquisition that came to nothing.

Turnover from fees, commissions and retainers, was 18 per cent higher at £16.8 million - including £8.2 million from corporate finance and £6.1 million from equities.

Arden raised £205 million for its corporate clients during the year, up from £137 million the year before and now has 36 corporate brokerships, three more than this time last year.

It completed three initial public offerings, 12 secondary fundraising, and six mergers or acquisitions. It also raised money for a company that plans to list on AIM some time in the future.

A 4.5p final dividend gives shareholders 6.7p for the year and gives the shares, unchanged at 152p yesterday, a yield of 4.4 per cent.

"To deliver these numbers in a challenging market means you are a quality company," said Trevor Norris, finance director.

Arden finished its year with £7.8 million of cash and received £2.2 million shortly after the year-end for fees on two corporate deals completed before the end of October.

Jonathan Keeling succeeded Tony Bartlett as chief executive at the start of this month. Mr Bartlett remains as a non-executive director.

"Arden continues to attract new institutional and corporate clients and this remains our strategy for the future," Mr Keeling said.

"We have also continued to develop our research-led philosophy and we remain confident that this model minimises business risk in difficult and challenging markets."

Arden is still looking for outstanding candidates to strengthen its equities team, he added.

"We have started the new financial year on a positive note with a number of secondary fundraisings, and commission levels are satisfactory.

"The pipeline of potential corporate transactions remains encouraging and a number of these are showing reasonable visibility of delivery.

""However, we are always mindful of timing and the state of the market.

"We will continue to grow the client base and believe that our ability to attract and retain high-quality individuals will help us maintain our position as a first-class stockbroking business."

Arden Partners chairman Sir David Roe-Ham said in yesterday's results statement to the London Stock Exchange: "The market is facing difficult times and to have achieved these results under such circumstances speaks volumes for the underlying quality of Arden's business model.

"Small cap markets in particular have become more difficult as risk aversion has increased among investors who have become more selective."

The Edgbaston company said its concentration on controlling overheads had resulted in a rise in underlying operation margin to 33 per cent - up from 31 per cent last time.

It ended the year with cash of £7.8 million.