31 Jul 2008

Prudential plc 2008 Half-Yearly Financial Results

Strong performance from Prudential Group in challenging conditions

  • Group new business APE sales up 12% to £1.5 billion
  • Group EEV new business profit up 11% to £602 million
  • EEV operating profit up 7% at £1.4 billion
  • IFRS operating profit up 13% to £674 million
  • Asset management net inflows of £4.1 billion (1H2007: £5.0 billion)
  • EEV shareholders’ funds £14.0 billion (December 2007: £14.6 billion*)
  • On track for holding company to be operating cash positive in 2008
  • Estimated IGD surplus £1.4 billion (December 2007: £1.6 billion)
  • Interim dividend up 5% to 5.99 pence
All figures compared to 2007 constant exchange rates,*adjusted for change in accounting policy for pension schemes

Commenting, Mark Tucker, Group Chief Executive said:

"Prudential continued to perform strongly in the first half of 2008 with double-digit growth in new business sales and profits, maintaining the momentum of the last three years. Our retirement-led strategy continues to drive the Group's growth, with a clear focus on profitable revenue streams across the diverse geographic spread of our businesses.

"Our Asian story remains compelling. New business APE increased by 14 per cent in the first half of the year building on the exceptional 48 per cent growth achieved in the first half of 2007. It is important to note that the 2007 comparative period benefited from the highly successful launch of our "What’s your number?” campaign in Taiwan and the introduction of a new variable annuity product. Excluding Taiwan, new business in Asia grew by 29 per cent and new business profit increased by 26 per cent. We remain confident of doubling Asia’s 2005 new business profit by the end of 2008 - a year ahead of our previously stated target.

"The US life insurance sector has been adversely affected by current economic uncertainties, which have resulted in more conservative customer behaviour and short-term pricing pressures in the market. Despite this, the strength of Jackson’s position across the annuity product range in particular is demonstrated by the resilient flow of new business, up 1 per cent to £356 million, and overall Jackson has reported record first half new business volumes.

"As a result of our targeted approach to the market, our UK operations achieved an 11 per cent increase in retail new business APE. Overall new business including wholesale operations increased by 18 per cent and new business profit was £129 million, up 19 per cent. These figures demonstrate that the disciplined delivery of our UK strategy is producing the anticipated positive financial results, with strong growth across both our retail and wholesale operations.

"The Group’s asset management operations continue to demonstrate the value of their track record for sustained and excellent long-term fund performance, achieving net inflows of £4.1 billion and maintained operating profit at £181 million in what have been very testing market conditions.

"The Board has agreed an interim dividend of 5.99 pence per share be paid, an increase of 5 per cent. The Board remains committed to a progressive dividend policy, with the level of dividend determined after taking into account the Group’s financial requirements, including opportunities to invest in areas of the business offering attractive returns.

"The macro economic climate will doubtless continue to be difficult for some while. We expect Asian economic growth to remain strong but beneath the peak levels of recent years. The fundamentals underpinning our Asian growth are highly positive.

"Jackson will continue to show resilient performance in the short-term and we remain confident will out-perform over the cycle. In the UK, we are delivering on our strategy and in asset management we are very well placed to capitalise on the strength of our positions.

"We expect to continue to outperform our competitors. We have a clear agenda, our retirement-led strategy and our business model, with its geographic mix and diversification, are robust, while our balance sheet and capital position have been very resilient.

"The prospects for the Group remain positive.”

Group Chief Executive’s Review

In the first half of 2008, the Group continued the momentum achieved over the past three years and once again delivered strong performance.

Our retirement-led strategy continues to drive the Group's growth, with a clear focus on profitable revenue streams across the diverse geographic spread of our businesses. This growth has been achieved against a background of deteriorating macro economic conditions and significant capital market volatility.

The retirement market offers significant long-term and sustainable growth, in particular in Asia, where economic growth and an increased emphasis on retirement savings continue to fuel demand, and in the US, which is experiencing the biggest demographic wave of people in history moving into retirement. The Prudential Group has a very powerful franchise in the sector, based on our financial strength, our investment and risk management skills, our brands and our product and distribution expertise.

The specific opportunity differs from market to market but our operating structure, product and distribution expertise give us the flexibility to capture growth and create value across the pre and post retirement market. Our approach is one that ensures that solutions matched to local customer needs can be offered in each market, but with significant product, operational and financial synergies still provided by the wider Group.

Group Performance

Group operating profit before tax, on the European Embedded Value (EEV) basis, was up 7 per cent to £1,430 million and on the statutory IFRS basis operating profit before tax increased by 13 per cent to £674 million.

New business across the Group’s insurance operations increased by 12 per cent to £1,513 million on an APE basis. Profit on new business increased by 11 per cent to £602 million with almost 80 per cent being generated overseas.

The Group’s asset management operations continue to demonstrate the value of their track record for excellent long-term investment performance, achieving net inflows of £4.1 billion and an operating profit of £181 million in line with the first half of 2007 in what have been very testing market conditions.

The cash flow position of the Group has continued to improve. Operating cash flow at Group level at the half year was positive at £86 million, supported by a higher than average uptake of the scrip dividend, and is in line with our projection of being operating cash flow positive at the Group level for the full year 2008.

The balance sheet and capital position remain robust, though the significant falls in markets have offset the gains we have made at the operating level. Shareholders’ funds on an EEV basis were £14.0 billion (2007 year end £14.6 billion).

As a result of the focus we have given to our credit management processes and capabilities we have not experienced any defaults and there have only been a limited number of downgrades. In addition, through proactive management and more defensive positioning of the portfolio we have reduced interest rate risk.

We have taken a rigorous approach in relation to the accounting treatment of "Other Than Temporarily Impaired” (OTTI) bonds and asset backed securities in the US and a charge of £108 million for net credit losses has been taken in the period.

The Group’s regulatory capital position is assessed under the European Insurance Group’s Directive (IGD). As at 30 June 2008 the IGD surplus was estimated to be £1.4 billion (2007 year end: £1.6 billion) with cover of 1.7 times of required capital.

The Board has agreed that an interim dividend of 5.99 pence per share be paid, an increase of 5 per cent. The Board remains committed to a progressive dividend policy, with the level of dividend determined after taking into account the Group’s financial requirements, including opportunities to invest the business at attractive returns. As previously stated, the Board believes that in the medium term a dividend cover of around two-times is appropriate.

Insurance operations

Asia

The underlying fundamentals in Asia of economic growth, increasing mass affluence and the significant shift in demographics will continue to be powerful drivers of growth in the retirement savings and health markets.

The Group’s unique balance of operations across the Asian region, including top-three positions in seven out of twelve markets, and the strength of our product and distribution capabilities put us in an ideal position to continue to access these high return growth opportunities.

Across the region the Group has over 420,000 tied agents and has distribution relationships with over 80 financial institutions. We continue to build our distribution capability in the region through enlarging and broadening our agency, direct and partnership channels.

We were very pleased to announce earlier this week that we have renewed and extended our main agreement with Standard Chartered through to 2016. This long-standing and successful agreement covers Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia and has been extended to include Japan and Thailand. In addition, we have separate agreements covering Taiwan, China and Korea. As part of the renewed agreement, we will now become a provider of health products through Standard Chartered in all these countries.

New business APE increased by 14 per cent in the first half of the year building on the exceptional 48 per cent growth achieved in the first half of 2007 and new business profit increased by 15 per cent to
£336 million.

The 2007 comparative period benefited from the significant success of the launch of our "What’s your number?” retirement campaign in Taiwan supported by the introduction of a new variable annuity product. As a consequence we saw a decline in sales in Taiwan of 36 per cent to £97 million APE, however we continued to gain profitable market share.

Excluding Taiwan, aggregate new business in Asia grew by 29 per cent and new business profit increased by 26 per cent.

Within the region, we achieved very strong new business growth in a number of markets: Indonesia 96 per cent; over 50 per cent in China, on a comparable basis taking into account the change in consolidation basis effected for the fourth quarter of 2007, and in Hong Kong; India 45 per cent and 39 per cent in Vietnam.

We remain confident of doubling Asia’s 2005 new business profit by the end of 2008 - a year ahead of our previously stated target of 2009.

IFRS operating profit before tax from the Asian life businesses increased by 28 per cent to £102 million and net cash remittances to the Group were £11 million.

United States

The US life insurance sector has been adversely affected by current economic uncertainties, which have resulted in more conservative customer behaviour and short-term pricing pressures in the market. Despite this, the strength of Jackson’s position across the annuity product range in particular is demonstrated by the resilient flow of new business and overall Jackson has reported record first half new business volumes.

Poorly performing equity markets, economic uncertainty and an upward sloping yield curve have led to an increase in demand for fixed annuity products and reduced demand for variable annuities. We have rapidly responded to capture the revenue stream resulting from this more conservative trend, while recognising that variable annuities remain the cornerstone of longer-term retirement income provision. The current market conditions have given rise to some competitive pricing behaviour, specifically in the variable annuity market. We consider this unsustainable, and our position remains that we will only write profitable business.

Total new business was £356 million, up 1 per cent on an APE basis; with retail new business of £274 million down 4 per cent. Variable annuity volumes, which accounted for two-thirds of retail new business, stabilised in the second quarter but were down 20 per cent for the half year. Fixed annuities new business increased by 121 per cent. The change in product mix resulted in new business profit down 5 per cent to £137 million.

Net flows across the annuity product range continued to be very strong with net flows in the second quarter being the highest for five years.

We are continuing to monitor the market for bolt-on acquisition targets that meet our target returns, in particular life back books that would suit our scaleable platforms. In current conditions there are an increased number of sellers and, with the prices of assets now at more realistic levels, we see more potential here than we have for a number of years.

UK

Conditions in the UK retail savings market in general have also been difficult in the first half of the year. However, as a result of our targeted approach to the market, our UK operations were able to achieve an 11 per cent increase in retail new business APE. Overall new business including wholesale operations increased by 18 per cent and new business profit was £129 million, up 19 per cent. The Internal Rate of Return on new business was 15 per cent.

These figures demonstrate that the disciplined delivery of our UK strategy is producing the anticipated positive financial results, with strongly based growth across both our retail and wholesale operations. Our focus in the UK is to capitalise on our strengths in the retirement income market. We have re-shaped our approach to retirement savings to improve returns by exiting unprofitable segments of the market and to take full advantage of our with-profits capabilities and we have in place the actions to reduce the cost base.

Individual annuity volumes, supported by strong vestings from internally maturing pension policies, held up well over the period. The attractiveness of cautiously managed with-profits products has supported sales across the annuity and pensions product range and with-profits bond sales tripled. With-profits accounted for 46 per cent of overall retail sales in the period.

We are also continuing to see steady growth in the strategically important Lifetime Mortgage market with new advances up 75 per cent against the first half of last year. We estimate that we are now the market leader in this segment.

In the wholesale annuity market, activity levels have increased and we have seen a narrowing of pricing differentials. We completed a bulk annuity reinsurance contract with Goldman Sachs for the reinsurance of £30 million in APE terms, of Rothesay Life’s non-profit annuity liabilities. This is an interesting development for us in terms of bringing alternative risk management solutions to the defined benefit bulk market.

We have continued to make good progress against our cost reduction goals in the UK. By the end of 2007 we had already achieved £115 million of the targeted annual total cost savings of £195 million. Work is proceeding in line with plan and we are on track to deliver the targeted reduction in our cost base by 2010. In April, we began to migrate many of the back office processes for our mature books of business to Capita, as part of our already announced outsourcing contract, and this will deliver the bulk of the remaining savings.

In June, we announced that we would not proceed with a reattribution of the Inherited Estate held in the with-profits sub-fund of The Prudential Assurance Company Limited. After extensive assessment, it was concluded that maintaining the current operating model was in the best long-term interests of both current and future policyholders and shareholders.

Asset Management

Our asset management businesses performed strongly in the first half, despite extremely difficult market conditions, with net inflows of £4.1 billion.

M&G had a strong first half year with operating profit of £146 million (2007: £140 million) and net inflows for the period in both its retail and institutional business totalling £2.4 billion. As a result, M&G’s external funds under management increased to £51.7 billion (2007 year end: £51.2 billion).

This result has been built on sustained and excellent fund performance. In the retail business, 45 per cent of M&G branded funds by number and 78 per cent by fund value were in the top quartile over 3 years and over 20 per cent by number and over 50 per cent by fund value were in the top decile over the same period, including a number of our flagship funds: Global Basics, Recovery, American and Optimal Income. In the institutional business, 69 per cent of mandates with a three year performance track record either met or exceeded their benchmark over three years.

Operating profit for our Asian asset management business was £29 million (2007: £33 million). Net inflows were £1.6 billion as we continued to extend our fund range with major fund launches in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and a third fund in China.

External funds under management in Asia at the end of the period were £15.7 billion compared with £17.4 billion at end 2007, reflecting the significant equity market falls across the region.

In Vietnam we again broke new ground with the launch of the country’s first institutional property fund. In Japan, where we have the second largest foreign asset manager, we established a new distribution relationship with Nomura and our recently established Middle East operations have already to date secured 14 distribution agreements.

Outlook

The macro economic climate will doubtless continue to be difficult for some while.

We expect Asian economic growth to remain strong but beneath the peak levels of recent years. The fundamentals underpinning our Asian growth are highly positive.

Jackson will continue to show resilient performance in the short-term and we remain confident will out-perform over the cycle.

In the UK, we are delivering on our strategy and in asset management we are very well placed to capitalise on the strength of our positions.

We expect to continue to outperform our competitors. We have a clear agenda, our retirement-led strategy and our business model, with its geographic mix and diversification, are robust, while our balance sheet and capital position have been very resilient.

The prospects for the Group remain positive.

ENDS

Enquiries:
Media Investors/Analysts
Jon Bunn +44 20 7548 3559 James Matthews +44 20 7548 3561
William Baldwin-Charles +44 20 7548 3719 Jessica Stalley +44 20 7548 3511

Notes to Editor:

1. The half-yearly financial report contained in this news release, together with additional financial schedules will be available on the Group’s website at http://www.prudential.co.uk

2. The results in this announcement are prepared on two bases, namely International Financial Reporting Standards ('IFRS') and the European Embedded Value ('EEV') basis. The IFRS basis results form the basis of the Group's financial statements.

The EEV basis results have been prepared in accordance with the principles issued by the CFO Forum of European Insurance Companies in May 2004. Where appropriate the EEV basis results include the effects of IFRS.

References to ‘operating profit’ in this announcement are to operating profit based on longer-term investment returns. Consistent with previous reporting practice the Group analyses its EEV basis results, and provides supplementary analysis of IFRS profit before tax attributable to shareholders, so as to distinguish operating profit based on longer-term investment returns from other constituent elements of total profit. On both the EEV and IFRS bases operating profit based on longer-term investment returns excludes goodwill impairment charges, short-term fluctuations in investment returns and the shareholders’ share of actuarial gains and losses on defined benefit pension schemes. Under the EEV basis, where additional profit and loss effects arise, operating profits based on longer-term investment returns also excludes the mark to market value movement in core borrowings, the effect of changes in economic assumptions, and changes in the time value of the cost of options and guarantees arising from changes in economic factors.

Period on period percentage increases are stated on a constant exchange rate basis.

3. Annual premium equivalent (APE) sales comprise regular premium sales plus one-tenth of single premium insurance sales. ‘PVNBP’ refers to the Present Value of New Business Premiums. PVNBPs are calculated as equalling new single premiums plus the present value of expected premiums of new regular premium business. In determining the present value, allowance is made for lapses and other assumptions applied in determining the EEV new business profit.

4.The internal rate of return (IRR) is equivalent to the discount rate at which the present value of the post-tax cash flows expected to be earned over the life time of the business written in shareholder-backed life funds is equal to the total invested capital to support the writing of the business. The capital included in the calculation of the IRR is the initial capital in excess of the premiums received required to pay acquisition costs and set up the statutory capital requirement. The time value of options and guarantees are included in the calculation.

5.There will be a conference call today for wire services at 7.30am (BST) hosted by Mark Tucker, Group Chief Executive and Tidjane Thiam, Group Chief Financial Officer. Dial in telephone number: +44 (0)20 8609 0793. Passcode: 155439#.

6. A presentation to analysts will take place at 9.30am (BST) at Governor’s House, Laurence Pountney Hill, London, EC4R 0HH. An audio cast of the presentation and the presentation slides will be available on the Group’s website, http://www.prudential.co.uk

7. High resolution photographs are available to the media free of charge at http://www.newscast.co.uk +44 (0) 208 886 5895).

8. An interview with Mark Tucker, Group Chief Executive, (in video/audio/text) will be available on http://www.cantos.com and http://www.prudential.co.uk from 7.00am on 31 July 2008.

9. Financial Calendar

Ex-dividend date 13 August 2008
Record Date 15 August 2008
Payment of interim dividend 23 September 2008
2008 Third Quarter Interim Management Statement
21 October 2008
2008 Full Year New Business Results 28 January 2009

10. Total number of Prudential plc shares in issue as at 30 June 2008 was 2,490,813,264.

About Prudential

Prudential plc is a company incorporated and with its principal place of business in England, and its affiliated companies constitute one of the world's leading financial services groups. It provides insurance and financial services directly and through its subsidiaries and affiliates throughout the world. It has been in existence for over 160 years and has £256 billion in assets under management as at 30 June 2008. Prudential plc is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential Financial, Inc, a company whose principal place of business is in the United States of America.

Forward-Looking Statements

This statement may contain certain "forward-looking statements” with respect to certain of Prudential's plans and its current goals and expectations relating to its future financial condition, performance, results, strategy and objectives. Statements containing the words "believes”, "intends”, "expects”, "plans”, "seeks” and "anticipates”, and words of similar meaning, are forward-looking. By their nature, all forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainty because they relate to future events and circumstances which are beyond Prudential's control including among other things, UK domestic and global economic and business conditions, market related risks such as fluctuations in interest rates and exchange rates, and the performance of financial markets generally; the policies and actions of regulatory authorities, the impact of competition, inflation, and deflation; experience in particular with regard to mortality and morbidity trends, lapse rates and policy renewal rates; the timing, impact and other uncertainties of future acquisitions or combinations within relevant industries; and the impact of changes in capital, solvency or accounting standards, and tax and other legislation and regulations in the jurisdictions in which Prudential and its affiliates operate. This may for example result in changes to assumptions used for determining results of operations or re-estimations of reserves for future policy benefits. As a result, Prudential's actual future financial condition, performance and results may differ materially from the plans, goals, and expectations set forth in Prudential's forward-looking statements. Prudential undertakes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements contained in this statement or any other forward-looking statements it may make.

Jackson National Life Insurance Company

Prudential

You are about to enter the website of our US affiliate Jackson National Life Insurance Company, an indirect subsidiary of Prudential plc of the United Kingdom.

Proceed to the site

Prudential

If you are looking for an affiliate of Prudential Financial, Inc, whose principal place of business is in the United States of America.

Proceed to the site

Prudential plc is an international company incorporated in the United Kingdom, and its affiliated companies constitute one of the world’s leading financial services groups. It provides insurance and financial services directly and through its subsidiaries and affiliates throughout the world, and it has been in existence for over 170 years. Prudential plc is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential Financial, Inc, a company whose principal place of business is in the United States of America, or the Prudential Assurance Company, a subsidiary of M&G plc (a company incorporated in the United Kingdom).

PPM America

Prudential

You are about to enter the website of our US affiliate PPM America, an indirect subsidiary of Prudential plc of the United Kingdom.

Proceed to the site

Prudential

If you are looking for an affiliate of Prudential Financial, Inc, whose principal place of business is in the United States of America.

Proceed to the site

Prudential plc is an international company incorporated in the United Kingdom, and its affiliated companies constitute one of the world’s leading financial services groups. It provides insurance and financial services directly and through its subsidiaries and affiliates throughout the world, and it has been in existence for over 170 years. Prudential plc is not affiliated in any manner with Prudential Financial, Inc, a company whose principal place of business is in the United States of America, or the Prudential Assurance Company, a subsidiary of M&G plc (a company incorporated in the United Kingdom).