Aviva share price falls as it warns of 'muted' 2019

British insurer Aviva today warned that its outlook would be weakened by economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit. — Reuters pic

Aviva share price falls as it warns of 'muted' 2019

'There's a huge opportunity here.

"Uncertainty in the political and economic backdrop intensified during the year and this was reflected in a hard year for investment market performance across most asset classes", Montague said.

'Given current uncertainties, including the unknown future impacts of Brexit on the economies of the United Kingdom and Europe, our near-term outlook entering 2019 is more muted than our outlook a year ago, ' Tulloch said.

"We are moving to a progressive dividend policy, which will see the dividend maintained or grown over time depending on business performance and growth prospects".

The new chief executive of Aviva has pledged to speed up the pace of change and cut complexity at the insurer as it announced a rise in annual profit.

Aviva appointed Tulloch, former head of its global business, as its new chief executive on Monday after sacking former boss Mark Wilson five months earlier, citing a desire to increase shareholder value.

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Aviva's comments on Brexit follow approval last month for the firm to transfer around £9bn in assets to a new Irish company ahead of Brexit.

Earnings rose 7 per cent to £198m across its long-term savings business.

Aviva made steady progress in 2018, with the insurer seeing decent profits growth, which allowed the company to increase its full-year dividend.

"As a result, the Board has increased the full year dividend by 9% to 30 pence per share".

'While we achieved 7% operating EPS growth in each of the past two years, it will be hard to sustain this momentum in 2019'.

"With an attractive dividend yield in excess of 6% and changes afoot, we continue to recommend the shares as a 'buy" for investors seeking income and willing to accept a medium level of risk'.

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"Ongoing restructuring and the disposal of fringe businesses mean the group's been very inward looking in recent years, although it's also in much better shape, while rivals like Legal & General and Prudential have been piling into growing geographies and business lines and Standard Life has completely transformed itself from life company to asset manager", said Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Mr Tulloch will get a £975,000 base salary and up to £4.9million a year in bonuses.

Aviva announced in a statement this morning that its operating earnings per share had climbed seven percent to 58.4p a year ago, while its operating profit came in two percent higher at £3.12 billion.

A total of 10,000 staff were handed the share award under a bonus scheme linked to Admiral's performance.

Pre-tax profit at the group rose 18 per cent to £476.2million in 2018, while turnover increased 11 per cent to £3.28billion.

Shares in Admiral are down 4.66 per cent or 102.00p to 2,089.00p.

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