Prudential’s Sales Beat Estimates on Growing Hong Kong Demand

Prudential Plc (PRU), the U.K.’s biggest insurer by market value, said first-quarter revenue rose 8 percent, beating analysts’ estimates on higher demand for life and health insurance in Hong Kong and Indonesia.

Sales, measured on an annual premium equivalent basis, climbed to 1.04 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) from a year earlier, beating the 1.02 billion-pound average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by the company. Profit from new business increased 5 percent to 563 million pounds, topping the 555 million-pound analyst estimate.

“Against a background of low long-term interest rates and uncertain economic growth, we remain focused on executing our strategy and capturing the long-term profitable growth opportunities available to us, particularly in the growing markets of Asia,” Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam said in the statement.

Prudential’s sales in southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia has strengthened the firm’s position in what it called the most long-term profitable insurance market in the world and has raised its dividend by 53 percent since 2009. By contrast, the insurer has shifted away from its home U.K. market, where profit margins have come under pressure, and has curbed sales in the U.S.

The firm’s net flows into its asset-management divisions increased 66 percent to 3.5 billion pounds, bringing assets under management to 301.2 billion pounds.

Prudential has increased 34 percent this year, making it the third-best performer in the 28-member Bloomberg Europe 500 Insurance Index, which has advanced 12 percent. The stock rose 0.1 percent to 1,156 pence a share at 9:25 a.m. in London, valuing the company at about 29.5 billion pounds.

Thiam, 50, earned 7.8 million pounds in 2012 even after becoming the first serving FTSE 100 Index (UKX) CEO to receive a public rebuke from the U.K. regulator for failing to notify the authorities of a $35.5 billion bid for AIA Group Ltd. (1299) early enough. Prudential’s share price has almost doubled since Thiam took the job in October 2009.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin Crowley in London at kcrowley1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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