August 13, 2019 / 1:54 AM / 12 days ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's Challenger Ltd maintains earnings outlook; shares rise

(Adds analyst quote, share price)

Aug 13 (Reuters) - Australian fund manager Challenger Ltd on Tuesday reported a flat full-year profit and maintained its fiscal 2020 earnings forecast, sending its shares more than 9% higher.

Challenger’s shares, which were among the most shorted on the ASX 200 ahead of its results, witnessed their best day since March 26.

The company reported a flat normalised net profit before tax of A$548 million ($370.45 million) for the year ended 30 June.

That came in at the lower end of the company’s own projected range of A$545 million to A$565 million, as expected.

Meanwhile, it reiterated its outlook of profit between A$500 million and A$550 million for fiscal 2020, and maintained its final dividend at 18 Australian cents per share.

“... the outlook for a similar A$500 million to 550 million in the coming year, I think is one of the reasons why we are seeing good support,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets said.

Challenger also announced investments worth A$15 million and said it expected business volumes of at least A$660 million from MS Primary in fiscal 2020, following an agreement earlier this year.

MS Primary is a unit of Challenger’s top shareholder, Tokyo-listed MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings. Earlier this year MS&AD increased its stake in Challenger to over 15%. ($1 = A$1.4793) (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan, Editing by Richard Pullin and Shounak Dasgupta)

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