Johannesburg - South Africa's third-largest insurer by market
value, Liberty Holdings [JSE:LBH], posted an expected 39% hike in full-year
earnings after a strong performance by its investment portfolio and its African
The insurer, majority owned by Africa's biggest lender
Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK], said BEE normalised headline earnings per share
came in at 1,328 cents from a restated 957c in the previous year.
Liberty flagged earlier this month that earnings would range
between 1,245 and 1,390c, a growth of 30%-45%.
BEE normalised headline earnings, which exclude certain
one-time items and take into account the impact of its black shareholder
scheme, is Liberty's main performance measure.
Liberty said its investment portfolio yielded a gross return
of 16%. It raised its normal dividend by 10% to 528c and declared a special
dividend of 130c.
Like other insurers in Africa, Liberty has struggled to grow
its businesses on the continent outside South Africa, where insurance is more
of a luxury than a necessity.
The company has operations in 15 African countries including
lucrative markets such as Nigeria, Angola, Kenya and Uganda, where most of its
new business is likely to come from.
The African insurance business had a three-fold increase in
Liberty's share of earnings to R69m, it said.
Standard Bank is due to report its earnings on March 7.
Liberty's shares have risen over 3% so far this year after a
flat performance in 2012. In comparison, Johannesburg's All Share [JSE:J203]
index is unchanged so far this year.
At 07:06 GMT, Liberty's shares were up 3.48% to R119.
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