Liberty Holdings says progress is being made towards rebuilding a competitive and sustainable business, resulting in improved operating earnings. Picture: SUPPLIED
Liberty Holdings says progress is being made towards rebuilding a competitive and sustainable business, resulting in improved operating earnings. Picture: SUPPLIED

Financial services group Liberty Holdings, which provides insurance and investment services, says half-year earnings rose by up to 55% as equities rallied in the first six months of 2019.

The JSE all-share index followed global markets higher in the first half, rising 10.4% partly on optimism about the prospect of lower interest rates and a resolution to trade disputes.

“The shareholder investment portfolio benefited significantly from improved investment market returns, particularly in respect of equities, in the first half of 2019,” Liberty said.

This is in contrast with 2018, when the JSE all-share index lost 11.4%. For the year to end-December, Liberty, which is partly owned by Standard Bank and has been shifting its focus more towards SA, reported a 17% fall in headline earnings as investment returns from Libfin Investments slumped.

In the six months to end-June, normalised headline earnings per ordinary share — a metric that accounts for one-offs linked to the group’s property interests and a black empowerment scheme — probably rose by between 45% and 55%, Liberty said on Thursday.

Headline earnings per ordinary share grew 25%-35%.

“The current risk profile of the shareholder investment portfolio is similar to a conservative balanced portfolio and is managed with a long-term through-the-cycle investment horizon.

“Progress is being made towards rebuilding a competitive and sustainable business, resulting in improved operating earnings whilst the focus on new business volumes continues,” the group said.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za