It’s a rare occasion when a disappointing corporate outlook statement might cheer investors about the state of the state of the UK economy.

Corporate insolvency specialist Begbies Traynor’s (BEG:AIM) cautious take on its end-markets might do just that.

Business failures are at their lowest level since 2004, executive chairman and founder Rick Traynor says.

National insolvency appointments across the UK market declined 9% in the year to March and revenue in Begbies’ Insolvency and Restructuring unit declined 7.8% to £37.7 million.

Still, Begbies, which provides advice to and helps wind up businesses in distress, grew overall revenue 10% and profit by 25% in the 12 months to 30 April 2016.

Weak activity in Insolvency and Restructuring was offset by improvements in Begbies’ property unit, mostly because of the acquisition of property auction house Eddison’s in December 2014.

Begbies expects growth in the year ahead to come through two newly-acquired units: property auctioneer Pugh, bought in September 2015, and business valuations specialist Taylors, acquired in December.

‘Although we remain cautious about activity levels in our counter-cyclical activities in both business recovery and property services in the near term, the recent acquisition of the Pugh auction business, together with the Taylors valuation business, gives the opportunity for growth in earnings in the new financial year,’ Ric Traynor says.

Adjusted earnings per share gained 10.3% to 3.2p in 2015 and Begbies’ board is proposing a maintained annual dividend of 2.2p.

Shares in Begbies trade 7% lower at 50p.

Issue Date: 12 Jul 2016