Great Eastern's Q3 earnings up 40% on higher valuation of investments

Great Eastern Holdings posted a 40 per cent rise in net profit to $287.9 million for the third quarter ended Sept 30, from $205.1 million a year ago.

The insurance arm of OCBC Bank yesterday said this was mainly due to higher valuation of investments, on the back of improved financial market conditions during the quarter.

Operating profit slipped 4 per cent to $171.4 million, from $178.5 million a year earlier. This was due to greater new business strain resulting from higher sales in Singapore, Great Eastern said.

Meanwhile, non-operating profit came in at $50 million for the third quarter, reversing from a loss of $31.3 million in the preceding year.

Profit from the shareholders' fund rose 20 per cent to $74.9 million, from $62.3 million a year ago, owing to higher mark-to-market gains from equities, the insurer noted.

In addition, a pickup in activity across all markets led to a 36 per cent growth in total weighted new sales to $432.8 million, from $317.5 million in the year-ago period.

Amid higher sales, new business embedded value edged up 2 per cent to $160.2 million, from $157.4 million in the corresponding period last year.

Group chief executive Khor Hock Seng said Great Eastern's focus on strengthening its distribution capabilities paid off in the first nine months of the year. He noted that the group was able to adapt in the current operating environment by capitalising on its digital and technology infrastructure, which contributed to higher sales.

The group now has an agency force size of over 30,000 across the region, he said. "We are committed to boosting hiring and offering opportunities amid employment uncertainties. In Singapore, we have hired over 1,000 financial representatives, welcoming recruits from a range of diverse backgrounds, such as fresh graduates and mid-career individuals."

Great Eastern shares closed 0.67 per cent up at $17.90 on Tuesday.

THE BUSINESS TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2020, with the headline 'Great Eastern's Q3 earnings up 40% on higher valuation of investments'. Print Edition | Subscribe