(Fixes typos in paragraph 6 with no further changes)
* Pretax down 3 pct at 217 mln stg, lags forecasts
* Revenue down 2 pct at 503.5 mln stg
* Clients pulled 3.9 bln stg from its funds in Jan, Feb
By Jemima Kelly
LONDON, May 6 (Reuters) - Britain’s Aberdeen Asset Management posted a three percent drop in interim pretax profit on Tuesday, sending its shares down nearly five percent, after clients pulled money out of its core emerging market funds.
The FTSE 100 fund management firm reported underlying pretax profit of 217 million pounds ($366.02 million) for the six months to March 31, down from 222.8 million a year earlier, while revenue fell 2 percent to 503.5 million.
The results came in at the lower end of forecasts. Analysts at Numis expected pretax profit of 225 million pounds and revenue of 521 million while analysts at RBC Capital Markets forecast a slightly lower pretax profit of 213.3 million pounds.
By 0830 GMT shares in Aberdeen were down 4.7 percent at 424.6 pence, placing it at the bottom of the FTSE 100 index.
Aberdeen has suffered from a loss of confidence in emerging markets, with worries such as the slowing Chinese economy and political unrest in Ukraine driving investors seeking less volatile markets to withdraw a net 3.9 billion pounds from its regional investment funds in January and February.
But outflows slowed in March to 200 million pounds and Chief Executive Martin Gilbert said there were signs that sentiment around emerging economies was improving.
“Investors are again identifying opportunities and recognising the fundamental strengths of these markets,” Gilbert said, though he expected some uncertainty to remain.
The MSCI Emerging Markets index fell as much as 13 percent between October 2013 and February 2014 before recovering during late March and April.
Gilbert said a better performance in March had been driven by flows into the company’s property, emerging market debt and high-yield bond businesses, as well as new investment mandates.
Assets under management increased by more than half on the same period last year to 324.5 billion pounds, boosted by the firm’s acquisition of fellow Scotland-based fund manager Scottish Widows Investment Partnership (SWIP) from Lloyds Banking Group on March 31.
Though the acquisition will reduce Aberdeen’s reliance on emerging markets and give the fund manager more exposure to UK and European stocks, Gilbert said he wanted to keep emerging economies at the core of the company’s strategy.
“We’re long-term believers in Asia and emerging markets and really the SWIP deal is prefaced on building the other businesses rather than reducing the emerging market, Asian and global equities business,” he said in a conference call to journalists.
“That’s where the growth is in the world, and as more and more companies focus on consumer growth there, we should see good company performance.”
Aberdeen proposed an interim dividend of 6.75 pence per share, up 12.5 percent on last year.
$1 = 0.5929 British Pounds Editing by Sophie Walker