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Sanlam Says Sales and Profit Rose in Four Months to April

Sanlam Ltd., the largest South African-based insurer, said sales and profit rose in the four months to April.

Earnings from Sanlam’s financial-services businesses increased 7 percent from 3.76 billion rand ($446 million) at the end of 2011, the Cape Town-based insurer said in a statement today. Earnings excluding one-time items climbed 6 percent in the period.

“The group achieved pleasing results in a difficult operating environment for the four months ended April, with the identified growth markets delivering particularly satisfactory results,” Sanlam said. The company had net fund inflows of 8 billion rand.

The insurer, which operates in Africa, Europe, the U.K., U.S. and India, is targeting lower-income earners in South Africa with cheaper insurance products. Sanlam invests some of its insurance premiums in equities. The FTSE/JSE All Share Index gained 7.6 percent in the four-month period.

“Relative market movements may have a major impact on the growth in group earnings to be reported for the six months ended June,” Sanlam said. The operating environment is “expected to remain challenging and is likely to impact on growth in the group’s key operational performance indicators,” it said.

Sanlam has almost 5 billion rand in discretionary capital and remains “focused on identifying” investment opportunities, Johan van Zyl, chief executive officer of the insurance group, said on a conference call today.

Sanlam gained 1.3 percent to 33.91 rand in Johannesburg trading, its highest in seven weeks.

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