Prudential plc (LON:PRU) (LSE:PRU.L) shares have gained 2.9% today after the release of 2016 results to the stock market. Prudential has registered record group EBIT of £4256 million, led by double-digit growth in Asia. EBIT in Asia was £1644 million, which is 15% higher than 2015 at constant forex rates and 28% higher at actual forex rates. Asia new business profit of £2020 million was 22% higher at constant forex and 37% up at actual forex rates.
Prudential’s Asia performance represents the 7th consecutive year of double-digit growth in new business profit, EBIT and capital generation. In Q4 2016, quarterly APE sales in Asia exceeded £1 billion for the first time, with 8 of its markets in the region growing by more than 20%. In my view, Prudential’s Asia business has further growth potential in the long run and I feel this will help to push the company’s share price higher.
Prudential’s shares could also benefit from the opportunities in the UK and US. Its businesses in those regions remain relatively well positioned in my view to overcome a period of significant regulatory change. The company’s dividends per share have increased 12% to 43.5p and it remains on target to meet its 2017 financial objectives.
In the last 3 months, Prudential shares have gained 9%. That’s ahead of financial services shares such as Barclays PLC (LON:BARC) (LSE:BARC.L), Standard Chartered PLC (LON:STAN) (LSE:STAN.L) and HSBC Holdings plc (LON:HSBA) (LSE:HSBA.L). Standard Chartered shares are 7% higher, Barclays shares are up 3% and HSBC’s share price has gained 2%. However, Prudential is behind shares in Aviva plc (LON:AV) (LSE:AV.L), which is up 14% in the last 3 months.
In my view, Prudential shares have long term investment appeal. I think the business could register more growth in Asia as wealth and demand for financial products increases. I’m optimistic about HSBC and Standard Chartered for the same reason, while I think Barclays and Aviva have the right strategies for growth. However, I believe Prudential’s share price could perform well on a relative basis in the long run.