Aviva shares soar on promise of higher returns
Shares in insurance firm Aviva soared after it posted a 14% increase in interim operating profits, raised its dividend and promised more shareholder returns.
Operating profit rose to £829m and the FTSE 100-listed group declared an interim dividend of 10.3p, in line with its full-year dividend guidance (2021: 7.35p).
The company said its IFRS loss after tax had deepened year-on-year, from £198m in 2021 to £633m a year later, largely reflecting adverse market movements.
However, it said it expects to announce a share buyback with its full-year results just months after returning £4.75bn to its investors. The shares closed 50.6p (12.21%) higher at 464.90p.
General insurance gross written premiums rose 6% to £4.69bn, with a “strong” 94% combined operating ratio, and UK & Ireland life sales were up 4% at £16.8bn.
The company confirmed that its £385m takeover of Succession Wealth will be completed later this year.
Chief executive Amanda Blanc said: “Sales are up, operating profit is higher, our financial position is stronger. This has been an excellent six months for Aviva.
“Our scale and diversification give us resilience and opportunity, enabling Aviva to withstand the challenging economic climate.
“Trading has been encouraging across all our major businesses in insurance, wealth, and retirement.
“We are increasingly confident in Aviva’s prospects and anticipate commencing additional returns of capital to shareholders with our 2022 full year results.”