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Japan-Update

Japan's big insurers report weaker April-June revenues

Premium hikes hurt income, but soft yen boosts core profits

TOKYO -- Six of Japan's seven leading life insurance groups earned less from premiums in the April-June quarter than a year earlier though core profit rose at five as favorable exchange rates lifted investment income.

Earnings reports show that their income from premiums and other sources, equivalent to sales at most companies, declined due to premium increases in April and other factors.

Sony Life Insurance was the only exception, with its premium revenue coming in largely unchanged at 241 billion yen ($2.19 billion).

Higher premiums pushed down sales of individual annuities. Nippon Life Insurance saw its revenue drop 1.4% to 1.34 trillion yen, but the decline also had to do with the fact that the insurer's revenue was boosted a year earlier by a deal to manage a large pension fund.

Other factors were also at work. For instance, many insurers stopped offering lump-sum whole-life insurance policies, as it became too difficult to generate sufficient yields from investments.

Sumitomo Life Insurance began selling foreign currency-denominated policies in April, but that was not enough to stop an overall decrease. Annualized premiums on new individual insurance contracts for the quarter fell 11.2% to 23.8 billion yen, and premium and other income tumbled 20.3% to 629 billion yen.

Nevertheless, fundamental profit -- or profit from core operations -- rose as a weaker yen lifted interest and dividend income from securities such as foreign bonds. Profit swelled at a unit of Dai-ichi Life Holdings dealing in financial products denominated in foreign currencies, and the group grew overall profit 84.3% to 144 billion yen, surpassing for the first time since April-June 2015 its larger rival Nippon Life, whose profit dipped 1% to 142 billion yen.

Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance reported a 7.8% fall in revenue to 716 billion yen, but core profit climbed 19.4% to 103 billion yen. T&D Holdings was hit by a 25.8% plunge in core profit to 32.4 billion yen on a 9.8% slide in revenue to roughly 341 billion yen. At Asahi Mutual Life Insurance, revenue dropped 1.7% to 93.5 billion yen, but core profit surged 180% to 5.5 billion yen.

(Nikkei)

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