Insurer Great Eastern has bounced back from a lacklustre showing this time last year, thanks to stock market highs and higher investment profits.
Net profit soared 125 per cent to $217.9 million in the three months ended March 31 from a year earlier, mainly owing to higher non-operating profit.
That came on the back of narrowing credit spreads, a rally on equity markets, and higher profits from investments in the shareholders' fund, it said.
Group chief executive Khor Hock Seng said in a statement yesterday: "The group has started the year well with a good set of first-quarter results." He cited other key operating metrics that have also "registered significant growth".
For instance, quarterly new business embedded value - a measure of long-term profitability - rose 24 per cent to $102 million, driven by higher sales in core markets and higher margins in Malaysia.
Total weighted new sales grew 29 per cent to $279.8 million for the quarter, as sales across all channels grew, "fuelled by strong contribution from agency and bancassurance channels".
AT A GLANCE
NET PROFIT: $ 217.9 million (+125%)
GROSS PREMIUMS: $2.69 billion (+19%)
Operating profit from the insurance business inched up 1 per cent to $121.1 million.
Quarterly gross premiums grew 19 per cent to $2.69 billion.
Profit from investments in the shareholders' fund for the quarter soared 138 per cent to $68.9 million.
This was on the back of higher realised gains from the sale of investments and lower foreign exchange losses from United States dollar-denominated investments.
Quarterly earnings per share was 46 cents, compared with 20 cents a year earlier, while net asset value per share was $14.54 as at March 31, compared with $13.92 as at Dec 31.
Mr Khor said the insurer's bancassurance partnership with OCBC Bank "continues to yield good results". He added Great Eastern would be improving its products and services, and making better use of its "distribution and analytical capabilities to deliver timely needs-based solutions".
The insurer added its "performance may be affected by volatility in global financial markets".
"Over the longer term, the key indicators to watch are the direction of interest rates, equity prices and foreign exchange rates," said Great Eastern.
The results were announced before markets opened. Great Eastern shares closed 46 cents higher at $21.93 yesterday.