SINGAPORE (Oct 29): Great Eastern Holdings reported 3Q18 earnings of $213.3 million, this was 26% lower compared to the 3Q17 earnings of $287.5 million a year ago as a result of less favourable financial market conditions.

9M18 earnings came in at $603.8 million, 1% lower compared to a year ago.

Total income for 3Q18 came in at $4.87 billion, 15% higher than a year ago. However, total expenses increased 18% to $4.6 billion, resulting in 26% lower profit after income tax of $216.1 million.

3Q18 gross premiums increased 14% to $3.54 billion due to higher single premium sales in Singapore.

In Singapore, growth was fuelled by strong sales from the agency channel while in Malaysia and Indonesia, all distribution channels continued to drive growth in the markets.

For 3Q18, operating profit from the insurance business was $141.4 million, 11% lower than the same period last year due to the release of reserves arising from repositioning of the maturity profile of the assets and liabilities last year.

Investment income, net increased to $756.6 million for 3Q18 mainly due to higher dividend and interest income.

Fees and other income decreased to $18.4 million for 3Q18 mainly due to lower fee income from the group’s asset management arm, Lion Global Investors.

3Q18 gain/loss on sale of investments and changes in fair value decreased 3% lower to $640.1 million due to unrealised losses in fair value through profit or loss assets arising from unfavourable market conditions. In 3Q17, there were higher realised gains on disposal of available-for-sale (AFS) investments.

Gross claims, surrenders and annuities increased to $1.78 billion for 3Q18 due to higher maturity, medical and living assurance claims.

The Capital Adequacy Ratios of the group’s insurance subsidiaries in both Singapore and Malaysia remain well above their respective minimum regulatory levels.

“The group’s Total Weighted New Sales (TWNS) for 3Q18 grew 14% to $347.1 million over the same period last year, underpinned by higher sales in all markets. New Business Embedded Value (NBEV) for 3Q18 was 3% lower at a $120.8 million compared to the same period last year,” says Great Eastern in its filing.

Group CEO Khor Hock Seng says the group continued to build on the sales momentum from last quarter, delivering steady sales growth during the quarter.

“Our positive 3Q18 performance is the result of improved productivity of our distribution channels and introduction of new products in our core markets. We have made good strides in our digitalisation transformation which is focused on creating seamless customer experience and empower customers to make more informed decisions regarding their needs,” says Khor.

Year to date, shares in Great Eastern are down nearly 8% to $25.62.