By Dow Jones Business News, October 17, 2013, 08:50:00 PM EDT
By Enda Curran
HONG KONG--AIA Group Ltd.'s (1299.HK, AAGIY) new business value rose to a record high during its third quarter, driven
by strong growth in markets such as Hong Kong, China and South East Asia.
The pan-Asian insurer's strong performance came as economies and financial markets across Asia ran into severe
headwinds during the period. Expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would start to wind down its massive bond-buying
program, which has long supported growth around the world, jolted currency markets and hurt economies across Asia.
But Chief Executive Mark Tucker played down fears of a hard landing in Asia and said growth prospects for China and
Japan have improved.
"Macroeconomic fundamentals in Asia remain robust," Mr. Tucker said in a statement.
The world's fourth-largest insurer by market capitalization said its new-business value, a key measure of insurers'
profitability, jumped by 26% to US$379 million in the three months to the end of August from a year earlier. Analysts
had expected growth of 20%. The value of new-business margins grew by 2.1 percentage points.
Annualized new premiums, a measure of new business activity, grew 21% to US$839 million.
"We find the continued strong growth in volumes positive given margin expansion has a limited lifetime in terms of
driving new business value growth," said Arjan van Veen, an analyst at Credit Suisse.
AIA operates in 17 markets across the Asia-Pacific region and is the only wholly foreign-owned insurer in China. The
life insurer has been steadily adding assets across the region. In July, Mr. Tucker told reporters the insurer's balance
sheet will allow it to buy rivals.
The insurer has beaten estimates over the past two years and its share price has soared since its initial public
offering in Hong Kong in October 2010, when former parent American International Group Inc. ( AIG ) sold around two-thirds
of its stake in the company.
Write to Enda Curran at email@example.com
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