Great Eastern Q4 profit rises 25% to $207.8 million

SINGAPORE - Mainboard-listed Great Eastern Holdings announced on Friday (Feb 6) a 25 per cent increase in net profit to $207.8 million for the fourth quarter, mainly from higher unrealised mark-to-market gains and growth in operating profit from the insurance business.

Operating profit from the insurance business for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2014, rose 15 per cent to $155.5 million from a larger in-force business, particularly from its Investment-linked Fund in Malaysia.

Non-operating profit for the quarter rose 67 per cent to $25.5 million because of higher unrealised mark-to-market gains from lower interest rates and higher equity prices

Earnings from investments in shareholders' funds also grew, rising 42 per cent to $48.6 million, on the back of higher investment income, gain from sale of investments and foreign exchange gains.

Higher fee income boosted Great Eastern's fees and other income to $20.3 million, up 5 per cent from $19.3 million a year ago.

For the full year, Great Eastern saw a net profit of $878.6 million, up 30 per cent from 2013, given more favourable market conditions last year.

Its embedded value, an estimate of the long-term economic value of a life insurance company for the existing blocks of business, rose 13 per cent to $10.4 billion last year, owing to an increase in the value of adjusted shareholders' fund from strong investment performance, and a growth in the value of its in-force business.

The company has recommended a final dividend of 40 cents, and a special dividend of five cents, for each share. These will be paid on May 7.

Including an interim dividend of 10 cents that was paid in September 2014, Great Eastern's total dividends for 2014 come up to 55 cents a share.

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