Liberty Group on Friday reported a 9% increase in normalised headline earnings per share (HEPS) to R9.82 in the year to end-December, which was in the middle the range given in recent guidance.Normalised headline earnings rose 8% to R2.71bn, helped by its shareholder investment portfolio, which contributed R1.3bn — up from R787m a year ago.The insurer said in its results statement that market returns were relatively higher in the review period, enabling the shareholder investment portfolio to achieve a gross return of 8.5% — up from 5.7% — although it said the performance was below the portfolio benchmark.But normalised operating earnings dropped 19%, with an improved earnings contribution from individual arrangements offset by the lower underwriting results from the corporate operation. Stanlib SA’s earnings continued to be affected by margin pressure due to what the company said was a less favourable sales mix and operational write-offs. Stanlib SA’s earnings dropped to R252m from...

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