Standard Life beats first quarter forecasts


Standard Life beats first quarter forecasts
Insurer Standard Life said sales rose eight per cent for the first quarter on better-than-expected UK and Asia-Pacific performances.

Standard Life said total life and pensions sales for the three months to March 31st 2008 totaled £4.48 billion, topping an average forecast from analysts polled by the company of £4.08 billion.

Standard Life reported UK life and pensions sales up six per cent to £3.5 billion as reduced pension claims and higher savings inflows boosted profits.

However, gross mortgage lending decreased by 46 per cent to £407 million in a slowing housing market.

Standard Life said the sharp decrease in gross mortgage lending has been driven by measures taken to drive profitability in response to "difficult credit market conditions".

At March 31st 2008, mortgages under management stood at £11 billion, compared to £11.3 billion for the previous quarter, with an arrears rate across the company's mortgage portfolio of 0.22 per cent. The Council of Mortgage Lenders industry average stands at 1.20 per cent.

Sales generated by Canadian operations increased by nine per cent in constant currency to £556 million despite the impact of weak equity markets.

Combined sales from joint ventures in India and China and Hong Kong operations increased by 84 per cent on an APE basis despite volatile market conditions, Standard Life said.

Group chief executive Sandy Crombie said: "We have delivered a solid performance in the first quarter against a backdrop of economic uncertainty and volatile markets.

"While market conditions ahead appear challenging, particularly in the UK, we remain confident in our ability to outperform in the profitable segments in which we operate."

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