* 2016 profit up 15 pct on-year
* Annual profit hits 62.4 bln yuan vs year-ago 54.2 bln yuan
* Life insurance premiums up 25 pct
(Adds background and earnings details)
SHANGHAI/BEIJING, March 22 Ping An Insurance
Group Co of China Ltd , China's
second-largest insurer by market value, on Wednesday posted its
biggest annual profit in more than a decade on strong sales.
Robust growth in its life insurance business helped Ping An
deliver strong results in a year when Beijing tightened its
regulatory grip on the sector to reduce risks from aggressive
insurers using short-term funds to invest in stocks and
Ping An posted a 15 percent rise in its annual net profit,
in line with analysts' expectations.
The insurer made a net profit of 62.4 billion yuan ($9.06
billion) in the year ended December 2016, versus an average
estimate of 62.3 billion yuan from 18 analysts polled by Thomson
Reuters. It was the company's highest profit since 2003.
Written premiums for life insurance jumped 25 percent to
373.78 billion yuan at Ping An, from 299.8 billion yuan, while
net investment yield for property and casualty insurance
increased to 6.8 percent last year from 6.3 percent in 2015.
Last year, Chinese insurers pulled in a total of 3 trillion
yuan of premiums, up about 28 percent from 2015, according to
data from China's insurance regulator.
Ping An's "revenue sources are more diverse than other
insurers," said Dayton Wang, an analyst at Guotai Junan
International. "It's not simply an insurance company, it's a
financial conglomerate built on insurance."
However, the insurer is likely to face headwinds in 2017 as
its Ping An Bank unit struggles against a regulatory
clampdown on off-balance-sheet instruments and lower core
capital, according to a March note from Daiwa Capital Markets.
Shares of Ping An Insurance closed down 0.72 percent in
Shanghai on Wednesday ahead of the results, against a 0.46
percent decline for the broader market.
($1 = 6.5129 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Engen Tham in Shanghai and Shu Zhang in Beijing;
Editing by Himani Sarkar and Keith Weir)