SINGAPORE (Feb 20): Great Eastern Holdings reported a 68% fall in 4Q18 earnings to $136.8 million from $426.8 million a year ago, mainly due to lower non-operating profit from insurance business. FY18 earnings came in at $740.7 million, 29% lower from a year ago.

“2018 was a challenging year,” says Group CEO Khor Hock Seng, “Interest rate hikes, coupled with trade & geopolitical tensions have resulted in volatile capital and financial markets which have impacted our Group Profit Attributable to Shareholders. However, our Operating Profit from Insurance Business remained resilient, achieving a year-on-year growth of 4% for the full year.”

As at 3.22pm, the counter was down 16 cents at $26.50.

Operating profit from the insurance business grew 5% to $171.6 million in 4Q18 and 4% to $625.3 million in FY18. This was driven by both the Singapore and Malaysia Insurance Business. However, non-operating profit from the insurance business fell 86% to $11.4 million in 4Q18 and 57% to $48.9 million in FY18.

There was a 4Q18 loss from shareholders’ fund’s investments of $45.4 million compared to a $75.8 million profit from shareholders’ fund’s investments of $75.8 million.

The group’s Total Weighted New Sales (TWNS) for 4Q18 dropped 30% to $330.2 million while that of FY18 dropped 6% to $1.235 billion compared to the same period last year. The decrease in 4Q18 compared to 4Q17 was mainly attributed to a product campaign in 4Q17 which was very well received by the market. Correspondingly, (New Business Embedded Value NBEV) dropped 7% in 4Q18 to $166.6 million and $527.6 million in FY18.

Great Eastern has recommended a final one-tier tax exempt dividend of 50 cents per share. This would bring total dividends for FY18 to 60 cents per share.

Looking forward, Great Eastern remains positive on the long term growth potential of the markets we operate in, while concerns over market volatility and slowing global economic growth are present.”