Tower FY profit jumps 67%, will return $120m to shareholders

Rob Flannagan: Group recovering well from Christchurch earthquakes

Tower, the insurer 34% owned by Guinness Peat Group, posted a 67% jump in full-year profit and says it will return $120 million to shareholders after the sale of its medical insurance business. Its shares climbed 4.2% as the market opened.

Profit rose to $55.8 million in the 12 months ended September 30, from $33.4 million a year earlier, the Auckland-based company says in a statement. Revenue from ordinary activities rose 23% to $483 million.

Profit is within the guidance of $51 million to $56 million given by managing director Rob Flannagan on November 2, when he announced the sales of Tower Medical Insurance to ASX-listed nib holdings for about $102 million.

Profit tumbled in the previous year on costs of the Christchurch earthquakes and reduced revenue from investments.

"The result reflects improved performance across all business units, compared with the same period last year," Mr Flannagan says. "The group is recovering well from the Canterbury earthquakes."

Tower will pay a final dividend of 6 cents a share, bringing payments for the year to 11 cents, up from a total of 6 cents last year. Shares rose 8 cents to $1.98 and have gained 25% this year. The stock is rated a "hold" based on a Reuters poll of three analysts, with a median price target of $1.955.

The capital return means Guinness Peat, which is selling down its portfolio of assets, will get some $40.8 million. GPG shares rose 0.9% to 59 cents and are little changed this year.

Profit in the latest year includes a $9 million gain from the discount rate used when valuing life risk policy liabilities.

Total net premium revenue rose to $272 million from $235 million, led by a 15% increase in general insurance premiums to $238.9 million and a 5.9% rise in life premiums to $94.2 million.

Investment revenue surged 86% to $118.9 million, driven by a gain from equity securities and "other",  which includes derivative financial assets and liabilities. Property and fixed income both declined.

Revenue from investment and management fees fell to $31.4 million from $33.8 million.

The $120 million capital return will use the sale proceeds and existing surplus capital and is likely to be via a scheme of arrangement, the company says.

(BusinessDesk)

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