Just Group reports rise in underlying profit, pays dividend

Illustration shows a smartphone with displayed Just Group logo

LONDON (Reuters) - British specialist insurer Just Group posted a 15% rise in first half underlying operating profit to 74 million pounds ($89.42 million) on Tuesday, as it restored an interim dividend of 0.5 pence per share.

Many insurers scrapped dividends at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, following pressure from regulators.

Just Group reinstated its dividend in March after reporting a 9% jump in annual profit.

"Following our strong H1 22, we have increased confidence of delivering 15% growth in underlying operating profit per annum, on average over the medium term," said David Richardson, group Chief Executive Officer of Just Group, which provides annuities for people with reduced life expectancy.

Just Group completed its largest bulk annuity transaction last month, totalling 500 million pounds, for an unnamed pension scheme.

In a bulk annuity deal, an insurer takes on pension payments for some or all of the members of a company defined benefit - or final salary - pension scheme.

Just Group said its increased confidence in meeting growth targets was due to a record pipeline of over five billion pounds in defined benefit scheme sales growth for this year and beyond.

It reported a capital coverage ratio, a key metric of solvency for insurers, of 184%, from 164% in December last year.

The company also reported a 226 million pound loss after tax, partly driven by the rise in interest rates, compared with a loss of 70 million pounds in the first half of 2021.

($1 = 0.8275 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones and Carolyn Cohn, editing by Sinead Cruise)