(Adds consensus forecast, analyst, share price)
LONDON, May 18 (Reuters) - Specialist annuity provider JRP posted an above-forecast 13 percent rise in first-quarter new business sales on Thursday, lifted by strong sales of group annuities to companies, sending its shares higher.
JRP, formed through the combination of two rival firms last year, specialises in annuities - the payment of a fixed income for life - for pensioners with medical conditions that cut their life expectancy.
Total new business sales rose to 436 million pounds ($564.18 million), 10 percent above a company-compiled consensus forecast, the company said in a statement, without giving more detail.
The sales of bulk annuities, which involve the insurer taking on the risk of a company defined benefit, or final salary, pension scheme, leapt 191 percent to 125 million pounds.
Sales of annuities to individuals have suffered following UK pension changes in the past few years. However, JRP's individual annuity sales also rose during the quarter, by 7 percent to 174 million pounds.
Lifetime mortgage sales fell 29 percent to 107 million pounds. The mortgages pay a fixed income against the value of a property, which is typically handed over as payment on the customer's death.
"We have enjoyed a solid start to the year and we remain on track to meet our expectations," Chief Executive Rodney Cook said.
Eamonn Flanagan, analyst at Shore Capital, reaffirmed his "buy" rating on the stock, saying "the new business prospects for the merged group are highly encouraging".
JRP's shares were 131 pence at 0738 GMT, up 2.1 percent, compared with a 0.4 percent fall in the FTSE 250 index.
$1 = 0.7728 pounds Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by Simon Jessop and Susan Thomas