Australian fund manager Challenger sees annual profit at low end of range

Australian fund manager Challenger Ltd said on Thursday it expected annual profit before tax at the lower end of its guidance range, sending its shares to more than three-year lows.

Adds outlook for FY2020, share move, background

June 13 (Reuters) - Australian fund manager Challenger Ltd CGF.AX said on Thursday it expected annual profit before tax at the lower end of its guidance range, sending its shares to more than three-year lows.

The company said it now expected to achieve the bottom end of the full-year 2019 normalised net profit before tax guidance range of A$545 million to A$565 million, matching market expectations of A$544 million ($376.9 million).

Challenger further signaled little growth in fiscal 2020 due to a "low interest rate environment", forecasting profit before tax in the range of A$500 million to A$550 million.

The company's shares plunged 12% to A$6.72 after the announcement, hitting more than three-year lows. The broader market .AXJO was flat.

Annuities, one of Challenger's main products, have become less attractive after a recent cut in the benchmark rate, and the company is finding it harder to provide previously committed fixed returns to customers.

($1 = 1.4434 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates)

((shanima.a.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; +91 80 6749 3167; Reuters Messaging: (Reuters Messaging: shanima.a.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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