Shares in insurance group Phoenix Group Holdings (PHNX), rose 1.5% to 635p following the announcement of better than expected full year results for 2021.

The market is likely to be encouraged by the new progressive dividend policy.

For 2021, Phoenix generated an operating profit of £1.23 billion, up from £1.20 billion in 2020, reflecting the contribution of a full year of profit from its ReAssure business and increased bulk purchase annuity new business in the period.

The London-based insurance services provider reported record cash generation of £1.72 billion in 2021, exceeding its £1.5 billion-to-£1.6 billion target range for the year and just ahead of the £1.71 billion generated in 2020.

Phoenix declared a final dividend of 24.8p per share, up 3% on a year before in its inaugural organic dividend increase. This took the year's dividend to 48.9p per share having paid a total dividend of 47.5p per share in 2020.

Chief executive Andy Briggs said ‘2021 marked a pivotal moment with £1.2 billion of new business more than offsetting the run-off of our heritage business for the first time. This demonstrates that Phoenix is a growing, sustainable business’.

NEW DIVIDEND POLICY

The dividend has been increased by 3% to 24.8p per share, marking the first organic increase, reflecting the group’s new dividend policy.

Management’s new approach to dividend distribution is to transition away from one that is flat, to one that is sustainable and grows over time.

Peel Hunt analyst Andreas VanEmbden suggests ‘It seems that cash generation has been brought forward in 2021 and will slip below our expectations in 2022, but the company still aims to deliver the previous targets, and future cash projections remain healthy. Further upside in cash should be driven by new business growth’.

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Issue Date: 14 Mar 2022