Share your thoughts on our News & Insights section. Complete our survey to help us improve.

Share research

Prudential – tough comparable periods keep a lid on Q1 growth

Prudential’s profit growth of 11% lagged its close peer AIA, as tough comparable periods in Hong Kong and China weighed on results.
Prudential - streamlined business has strong end to the year

No recommendation - No news or research item is a personal recommendation to deal. All investments can fall as well as rise in value so you could get back less than you invest.

Prices delayed by at least 15 minutes

Prudential reported first-quarter annual premium equivalent (APE) sales up 7% to $1.6bn, excluding currency impacts. Growth in Singapore and Malaysia was somewhat offset by tougher comparable periods in Hong Kong and weak sales in China and Indonesia.

New Business Profits (NBP) grew 11%, ignoring economic impacts, to $810mn, and margins rose to 50%. However, allowing for those impacts, NBP was flat, and margins fell from 48% to 45%.

Prudential’s asset management arm, Eastspring, reported net inflows of $0.1bn and assets under management of $239bn, up from $237bn at the start of the period. Strong retail sales and flows from the insurance business were slightly offset by institutional outflows.

CEO Anil Wadhwani said he expects to update shareholders on capital management plans by half-year results.

The shares fell 4.8% in early trading.

Our view

First quarter results were met with a poor market reaction, likely due to the fact that growth was significantly behind its closest competitor, AIA. There was also hope that some further capital distributions might be coming investors' way, but we’ll have to wait until closer to half-year results to hear news on that front.

The reopening of the China-Hong Kong border helped Prudential's performance last year, boosting demand for its products. This is especially good news for Hong Kong operations, which boast a market-leading position for products aimed at visitors from mainland China. The average number of visitors from China is now ahead of pre-pandemic levels, but that strong performance last year is acting as a tough comparator.

The product mix has shifted, with higher rates meaning savings products are taking a bigger chunk of the pie. More recently we're starting to see that shift back toward the higher margin health and protection business, a trend that would be beneficial if it continues.

Medium-term initiatives are evolution rather than revolution and include $1bn of investment across several core areas including technology, and creating a more joined-up customer approach across the product ranges.

Looking further ahead, the Asian and Indian regions should benefit from long-term economic development. In Asia, insurance uptake is low and in many cases state provisions for pensions and social security are limited. India offers lots of potential in the health insurance space. With 1.4bn people and around half of all health expenses being covered by disposable cash, there's an opportunity to shift the dynamic more toward insurance policies.

Prudential also has a massive asset management business, Eastspring, which manages close to $240bn of assets. It offers a host of investment solutions as well as managing premiums generated from the life insurance business. Improving market dynamics mean retail investors are moving back to higher margin equity funds.

Capital levels are strong, and the group’s committed to increasing the dividend 7-9% over the next couple of years. Nothing is guaranteed.

The new strategy brings with it some bold goals, growing new business profit by 15-20% won't be easy but should conditions remain supportive there's plenty of opportunity ahead. This isn't a high yielder like some of its UK listed peers, but Prudential's Asian focus and higher growth opportunities give a different option for a UK investor.

But that can be a double-edged sword. Asian exposure has been out of favour for some time and evolving dynamics in China could act as a longer-term lag on valuations.

Environmental, Social and governance (ESG) risk

The financials sector is medium-risk in terms of ESG. Product governance is the largest risk for most companies, especially those in the US and Europe with enhanced regulatory scrutiny. Data privacy and security is also an increasingly important risk for banks and diversified financial firms. Business ethics, ESG integration and labour relations are also worth monitoring.

According to Sustainalytics, Prudential’s management of material ESG issues is strong.

Prudential trains sales employees annually on responsible marketing and has strong policies for data privacy and security. The company invests in digital products to enhance customer experience but does not disclose customer complaint details. While it offers thorough training on ethics and corruption, and also provides whistleblower protections, Prudential lacks ethical risk assessments in investment and product development.

Prudential key facts

All ratios are sourced from Refinitiv, based on previous day’s closing values. Please remember yields are variable and not a reliable indicator of future income. Keep in mind key figures shouldn’t be looked at on their own – it’s important to understand the big picture.

This article is original Hargreaves Lansdown content, published by Hargreaves Lansdown. It was correct as at the date of publication, and our views may have changed since then. Unless otherwise stated estimates, including prospective yields, are a consensus of analyst forecasts provided by Refinitiv. These estimates are not a reliable indicator of future performance. Yields are variable and not guaranteed. Investments rise and fall in value so investors could make a loss.

This article is not advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any investment.No view is given on the present or future value or price of any investment, and investors should form their own view on any proposed investment.This article has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is considered a marketing communication.Non - independent research is not subject to FCA rules prohibiting dealing ahead of research, however HL has put controls in place(including dealing restrictions, physical and information barriers) to manage potential conflicts of interest presented by such dealing.Please see our full non - independent research disclosure for more information.
Latest from Share research
Weekly Newsletter
Sign up for Share Insight. Get our Share research team’s key takeaways from the week’s news and articles direct to your inbox every Friday.
Written by
Matt Britzman
Equity Analyst

Matt is an Equity Analyst on the share research team, providing up-to-date research and analysis on individual companies and wider sectors.

Our content review process
The aim of Hargreaves Lansdown's financial content review process is to ensure accuracy, clarity, and comprehensiveness of all published materials
Article history
Published: 30th April 2024