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Challenger Rises to Near 6-Year High on Annuities: Sydney Mover

Challenger Ltd. rose the most in a month to its highest since December 2007 after reporting a 31 percent rise in life annuity sales in the third quarter from a year earlier.

The stock gained 3.4 percent to A$5.86 in Sydney trading today after it announced the jump in annuity sales to A$732 million in the three months ending Sept. 30. The Sydney-based company’s assets and funds under management also rose 31 percent to A$46.1 billion, it said in a statement to the stock exchange today.

“The annuity sales are nothing short of impressive and it is their core business area,” Evan Lucas, a Melbourne-based market strategist at IG Ltd., said in a phone interview. “It has done really well since the global financial crisis and a lot of people are seeing it as an option they otherwise probably didn’t look at before.”

Challenger has soared 66 percent this year, the third-biggest rise among financial services stocks in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index, which has risen 14 percent over the same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Sales of life annuities, which are retirement products that offer regular payments in return for a lump-sum investment, made up about 80 percent of Challenger’s revenue in the fiscal year ending June 30, according to the company’s results released Aug. 19.

“We are very pleased with the unseasonably strong retail annuity sales and remain committed to our 2014 guidance,” Chief Executive Officer Brian Benari said in today’s statement.

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