Just Group shares leap as 2021 retirement income sales rise 25%

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Just Group logo is seen on a smartphone in front of displayed same logo in this illustration taken, December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

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LONDON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - British insurer Just Group's (JUSTJ.L) retirement income sales and new business profits both grew last year, it said in a full-year trading update for 2021 on Tuesday, sending its shares soaring.

Just Group specialises in annuities paying a fixed income to pensioners with reduced life expectancies.

The company said income from retirement sales jumped 25% to 2.7 billion pounds ($3.68 billion) last year, while new business profits grew by a "low double digit" percentage.

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The firm added that its underlying organic capital generation more than doubled from the previous year, exceeding its 2022 target a year early.

"Having improved and rebuilt the capital position, we've very much swung back to growth," CEO David Richardson told Reuters.

Just Group shares were 6.3% higher at 91.20 pence by 0916 GMT, sending it to the top of the FTSE mid-cap index (.FTMC). RBC analysts described the retirement income sales as "strong", reiterating their "outperform" rating on the stock.

Just Group and other UK life insurers have suffered in the past few years as pension reforms have led to reduced demand for individual annuities,

But demand has risen for so-called bulk annuities, which involve transferring the risk of UK company defined benefit - or final salary - pension schemes to an insurer. Such schemes are often in deficit, causing a drag on company balance sheets.

Just Group's bulk annuity sales hit a record of more than 1.9 billion pounds in 2021 and it said there was a strong pipeline of potential deals.

It publishes full 2021 results on March 10.

($1 = 0.7335 pounds)

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Reporting by Iain Withers and Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Rachel Armstrong, Kirsten Donovan

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