Prudential Financial profit beats on asset management strength

(Reuters) - Prudential Financial Inc beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly adjusted profit on Thursday as the strong performance of the U.S. life insurer’s asset management arm cushioned the hit from coronavirus-related claims.

PGIM, Prudential’s asset management arm, reported a record 40% rise in fourth-quarter adjusted operating income to $404 million. The unit’s assets under management jumped 13% to an all-time high of $1.49 trillion.

The company’s shares rose 2.5% in extended trading as it also authorized the buyback of up to $1.5 billion shares from the start of 2021.

A rebound in investment income and lower payouts for dental and other non-medical health claims have helped global life insurers offset some of the blow from payouts related to the health crisis, with MetLife Inc also reporting a marginal rise in fourth-quarter adjusted profit.

Prudential’s U.S. individual life insurance business posted an adjusted operating loss of $65 million, compared with an adjusted operating income of $58 million a year earlier, a result driven by payouts for COVID death-related claims.

The company’s total after-tax adjusted operating income rose to $1.18 billion, or $2.93 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $915 million, or $2.24 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts had expected a profit of $2.57 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Suzanne Barlyn in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania; Editing by Aditya Soni