Voya Lifts Profit Target, Announces $750 Million Buyback

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Voya Financial Inc., the U.S. insurer and investment manager that was spun off from ING Groep NV, announced a $750 million share buyback and increased its profitability target.

Chief Executive Officer Rodney Martin plans a 2018 operating return on equity of 13.5 percent to 14.5 percent, the New York-based company said Tuesday in a statement. The previous range for that year was 13 percent to 14 percent, and ROE was about 12.1 percent in 2014.

Voya is focusing on growth in investment-management and some retirement operations that can be less capital-intensive than annuities or life insurance. Last month, the company announced the hiring of Charles Nelson as CEO of the retirement unit. Martin has committed to as much as $350 million in investments to boost profitability.

The initiative will “bear more fruit than originally projected,” Mark Palmer, an analyst with BTIG, wrote in a note to investors.

Almost half of the $350 million plan is for spending on data and analytics, according to an investor presentation. Another $120 million is earmarked for simplifying information technology. The largest share of the effort is scheduled for

2016.

Voya climbed 0.9 percent to $45.76, and has advanced about 8 percent this year. That compares with the $19.50 price from an initial public offering in 2013.

“We are very much trying to help people accumulate, protect and ultimately enjoy their retirement,” Martin said in an interview at the company’s investor day in New York Tuesday. “Our objective is just to continue to execute as we have, and if we do, I think it’s going to be one of be the preeminent retirement players in the U.S.”

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