Great Eastern Q4 profit more than doubles to $287m

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Great Eastern Holdings on Wednesday posted a net profit of $287 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2019 more than double the $136.9 million a year ago.

This came as non-operating profit rose to $63.2 million for Q4, compared with $10.9 million for the corresponding period last year.

Meanwhile, operating profit rose 1 per cent to $173.7 million from $172.1 million for the year-ago period.

Profit from shareholders’ fund came in at $54.6 million for the quarter, reversing from a loss from shareholders’ fund of $45.4 million in the previous year.

The insurance arm of OCBC Bank said this was due to higher valuation of its investments due to “favourable financial market conditions”.

Earnings per share was $0.61 for the fourth quarter, up from $0.28 in the preceding year.

Driven by Great Eastern’s businesses in Singapore and Malaysia, total weighted new sales gained 19 per cent to $395 million, from $330.6 million a year ago.

The company’s distribution and product strategies also led to new business embedded value rising 31 per cent to $199.7 million for the quarter, up from $152.5 million in the previous year.

The board has recommended a final one-tier tax exempt dividend of 50 cents per ordinary share. Upon approval by shareholders at an annual general meeting to be convened, the final dividend will be payable on May 8.

Including an interim one-tier tax exempt dividend of 10 cents per ordinary share paid in August 2019, total dividend for fiscal 2019 would amount to 60 cents per ordinary share.

For the full year, net profit rose 36 per cent to about $1 billion, from $740.7 million a year ago.

Shares of Great Eastern closed at $21.82 on Tuesday, down $0.04 or 0.2 per cent.

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