Prudential Raises Its Dividend By 16%

LONDON -- Shares in Prudential lifted 2.8%, or 29 pence, to 1,058 pence in early trade this morning, as the insurer released its full-year results for 2012.

In a fortnight that has seen rivals Aviva and RSA Insurance cut their dividends, Prudential raised their full-year dividend by 15.9% from 25.19 pence in 2011, to 29.19 pence per share.

Operating profit increased by 25% to come in at a very healthy £2.53bn, while total pre-tax profit jumped 54%, standing at 2.81 billion pounds. Management pointed toward the addition of over one million customers in Asia, as operating profit in the region was reported as 988 million pounds, a 26% lift on the previous year.

On a European embedded value (EEV), new business profit was up 14% to 2.45 billion pounds, with Asia seeing an 18% increase to 1.27 billion pounds.

Group chief executive Tidjane Thiam commented:

Prudential has produced a strong performance in 2012. Globally, we have around 24 million insurance customers and have continued to provide each of them with products and services that they value highly, delivering on our promise to offer quality savings and protection products. In 2012, we added more than one million new customers in Asia, while in the US we sold more than 200,000 new policies. In the UK, where we have 7 million customers, we are one of the largest providers of annuities and in 2012 we paid £2.9 billion in income to our annuitants.

On the future of the company, Thiam went on to say:

The quality of our products, the strength of our multi-channel distribution platform, and our ability to innovate and develop creative solutions to meet our customers' needs, translate over time into profitable and sustainable growth for the company. Our focus on capital and risk management has allowed us to deliver both growth and cash to shareholders, despite a challenging macroeconomic environment. Our business in Asia has continued to demonstrate the benefits of both its scale and its diversification, by growing strongly on each of our three key performance metrics: new business profit, IFRS operating profit and cash.

Additionally, today Prudential announced the appointment of a new independent non-executive director. Anthony John Liddell Nightingale, CMG, has high-level, Asia-focused experience, and was previously managing director of Jardine Matheson, the diversified Asia-focused business group, from 2006 until he retired in March 2012. Nightingale replaces Keki Dadiseth, who is retiring from the Board on 1 May 2013 after eight years' service.

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