AIA Reports 20% Hike in New Business During 1st Quarter

By | April 24, 2015

AIA Group Ltd., the third-largest Asia-based insurer by market value, said the value of new business climbed 20 percent in the first quarter, meeting analysts’ estimates.

The measure of projected future profitability of new policies increased to $425 million in the three months to Feb. 28, from $354 million a year earlier, the Hong Kong-based company said in a statement Friday. That compared with the 19.5 percent median estimate of four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

AIA has kept quarterly growth of Chief Executive Officer Mark Tucker’s key management performance measure above 20 percent since going public in October 2010. Results in Hong Kong and China offset the impact of currency depreciation and weaker South Korea business in the three months, helping to sustain the momentum even as the pace of increase fell to the slowest since the fourth quarter of 2010.

“We see value of new business growth now effectively ‘locked in’ at above 20 percent,” Credit Suisse Group AG analysts Arjan van Veen and Frances Feng wrote after the announcement, citing a deal to distribute policies through Citigroup Inc. branches.

AIA shares fell 1.1 percent to HK$51.60 at 11:16 a.m. in Hong Kong, paring this year’s advance to 20 percent. The Hang Seng Finance Index has gained 16 percent in 2015.

The insurer’s profit beat analysts’ estimates in eight out of the past nine half-year periods, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Weaker Currencies

Currencies in several of its major markets, including Malaysia, Singapore and China, slid as much as 6 percent in the three months to February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. AIA sells policies and makes investments in local currencies, while reporting financial results in dollars.

New business value would have expanded 24 percent without the currency effect, according to the statement.

Higher agent productivity and a “strong” increase in the number of active agents drove “excellent” new business value growth in Hong Kong and China during the quarter, according to the statement, without giving further details.

Tucker has relied on a shift toward more profitable products and countries for part of the improvements as premium income expanded at tamer rates.

Annualized new premium, the sum of first-year premiums and 10 percent of single premiums, grew 12 percent to $895 million in the three months. It would have increased 15 percent without the currency effect.

New business margin, the value of new business as a percentage of annualized new premium, widened by 3 percentage points to 46.8 percent.

Margin expansion largely drove new business value increases in Thailand and Malaysia, according to the statement.

Total premium, which includes policy renewals, rose 8 percent to $4.8 billion in the quarter, or 11 percent without considering currency fluctuations.

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