Insurer Standard Life profit beats expectations

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Insurer and asset manager Standard Life posted an above-forecast pre-tax operating profit of £665m for 2015.

Analysts in a company-supplied forecast had expected operating profit before tax of £616m.

Assets under administration rose 4 per cent to £307.4bn.

Edinburgh-based Standard Life has been increasing its focus on flexible drawdown pensions and its asset management arm, rather than traditional insurance products such as annuities, which give pensioners a fixed income for life.

Standard Life said its solvency capital ratio under new European capital rules was 162 per cent of the minimum requirement.

A ratio of 100 percent means an insurer has set aside enough capital to meet underwriting, investment and operational risks.

In a trading statement Keith Skeoch, chief executive of Standard Life, said: “While the difficult conditions in global financial markets may persist for some time, Standard Life remains well positioned to meet the needs of clients and customers around the world.”

The company said it would pay a total dividend of 18.36p per share.

JP Morgan Cazenove reiterated its overweight rating on the stock, saying in a note that: “we see these as a strong set of results”.