UPDATE 1-Britain's Just Retirement lifted by lifetime mortgage sales

Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:53am EST

(Adds CEO, analyst comment; detail; updates shares)

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Just Retirement Group reported an 11 percent rise in half-yearly underlying operating profit as higher demand for lifetime mortgages boosted the pension provider's maiden results since its 1.1 billion pound initial public offering in November.

Just Retirement, whose annuities, mortgages and advice on pensions mainly go to retirees with health issues such as obesity, said it was confident of its long-term growth as its target customer group continued to grow.

"In the UK demographic, more and more people are going to retire and get older," Chief Executive Rodney Cook said, adding that he expected the pension market to grow over the next two to five years.

Just Retirement's shares rose as much as 4 percent on the London Stock Exchange on Friday morning. They have gained about 13 percent since listing in November during a flurry of IPOs in London.

"Crucially for us, the management state that it is on track to meet its full year expectations," Espirito Santo analyst Phil Dobbin said, reiterating his "buy" rating on the stock. "We view this as a highly credible result in a difficult market."

The company, which is backed by private equity group Permira , reported an operating pretax profit of 40.7 million pounds ($67.85 million) in the six months ended Dec. 31.

Sales of lifetime mortgage advances rose nearly 50 percent to 218.3 million pounds during the period. Lifetime mortgages pay pensioners a fixed income against the value of their property, which is typically handed over as payment upon the retiree's death.

Just Retirement's shares were up 2 percent at 245 pence at 1150 GMT on the London Stock Exchange on Friday, after touching a high of 249.50 pence earlier. ($1 = 0.60 British pounds) (Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane and Joyjeet Das)

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