Analysts are unconvinced that Liberty, which reported a double-digit drop in earnings on Friday, can turn around its underlying businesses, but say the insurer is a good dividend payer that trades at a discount to its peers. "Management’s track record on delivering growth strategies hasn’t filled investors with confidence," said Nkareng Mpobane, a fund manager at Ashburton Investments. A challenging consumer environment, lower investment returns, accounting anomalies arising from its listed property portfolio and operational challenges in Stanlib were the key drivers behind the group’s weak results, said Liberty group CEO Thabo Dloti. For the year to December 2016, Liberty’s normalised headline earnings fell 38.8% from the prior period to R2.5bn, reflecting a 37% drop in operating earnings and a 42% decline in earnings from the shareholder investment portfolio. The result was better than expected, said Mpobane. In a trading update issued in January, Liberty cautioned that earnings c...

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