Standard Life profit growth misses City forecasts

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Life and pensions group Standard Life has reported a lower-than-expected rise in profits for the first half, despite enjoying record new business sales.

The Edinburgh-based firm posted an operating profit before tax of £304 million for the first six months of the year, up 6 per cent on the same period last year, but well below the 12 per cent increase analysts had expected.

New business sales for long-term savings grew to £12.2 billion, from £10.1bn a year ago, while profits at the group’s Standard Life Investments (SLI) division surged 37 per cent to £93m, driven by £7.1bn of third-party net inflows.

The stronger-than-expected inflows helped SLI’s third-party assets under management swell by 12.5 per cent to £93.4bn.

Total assets under management, which analysts had expected to grow by about 9 per cent, were 7 per cent higher at £233bn. Shore Capital analyst Eamonn Flanagan said the figure would “disappoint the market, given its view of Standard life as more of an asset management play as opposed to a life company”.

Chief executive David Nish said: “Standard Life has made really good progress in the first half of the year, delivering substantial growth in sales, flows and assets, all driving higher revenues and operating profits.

“We look forward to the future as our business model, propositions, distribution capability and strong balance sheet mean we are confident we can deliver ongoing improvements in value for our customers and shareholders.”

Investors will receive an interim dividend of 5.22p a share, an increase of 6.5 per cent on last year’s payout.