LOWER investment gains sent net profit down 21 per cent in the first quarter at Great Eastern Holdings.
Earnings came in at $207.5 million for the three months to March 31.
The insurer said yesterday that the same period a year ago was boosted by much higher mark-to-market investment gains because of a strong recovery in global financial markets at that time.
It noted that if these factors were stripped out, the company performed better in the quarter this year. Operating profit from the insurance business increased 25 per cent year-on-year to $131.2 million.
This was due to a better performance from the investment-linked business across various markets. There was also a higher operating profit from the non-participating fund – from which extra returns over promised payouts are retained as profits by Great Eastern.
Gross premiums for the quarter rose 10 per cent to $1.62 billion.
The company recorded total weighted new sales of $205.1 million in the first quarter, up 17 per cent on a year ago as various markets recorded growth.
Total weighted new sales for Singapore rose 19 per cent to $133.6 million, due to strong demand for regular premium savings products, particularly through the bancassurance channel.
The Malaysia operations registered 9 per cent growth in total weighted new sales to $60.7 million, amid continued momentum in Great Eastern’s conventional business, particularly for regular premium investment-linked products.
There were also increased sales contributions from the firm’s operations in Indonesia.
“I am pleased that our business has responded well to the increased competitive pressures and evolving consumer needs, posting healthy growth in operating profit and total weighted new sales,” said chief executive Chris Wei.
“While our operations in Singapore and Malaysia continue to deliver stable growth, we are also excited about the increasing contributions from takaful and our operations in Indonesia.
“The relative under-penetration of insurance in these markets provides us the opportunity to build up our distribution scale and offer our tailored mix of insurance solutions.”
Net asset value per share was $10.59 at March 31, up from $10.13 at Dec 31 last year.
Earnings per share for the first quarter was 44 cents, down from 55 cents a year ago.
The results were announced before markets opened yesterday.
Great Eastern shares closed 12 cents down at $17.62 yesterday.