March 8, 2017 / 7:34 AM / 10 months ago

Legal & General posts $2 bln 2016 operating profit, up 11 pct

LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - Insurer Legal & General posted an 11 percent rise in 2016 adjusted operating profit to 1.63 billion pounds ($1.99 billion), boosted by a strong performance in its retirement business, it said on Wednesday.

Analysts in a company-supplied consensus had forecast an operating profit of 1.62 billion pounds.

Its asset management arm Legal & General Investment Management, one of the biggest investors in the UK stock market, saw assets under management rise 20 percent to 894.2 billion pounds, after seeing net inflows of 31.2 billion.

Net release from operations, previously described as net cash generation, rose 12 percent to 1.41 billion pounds, L&G said in a trading statement, above a forecast of 1.38 billion.

“Our core markets are growing, our market share is increasing, our balance sheet is strong and we have positive cash and earnings momentum,” chief executive Nigel Wilson said.

Barclays analysts reiterated their “overweight” recommendation on the stock.

“L&G can benefit from structural trends in retirement (pensions de-risking), asset management (shift from active to passive) and increased infrastructure spend,” they said in a note.

L&G said it would pay a total dividend of 14.35 pence, up 7 percent from 2015 and in line with a forecast of 14.36 pence. ($1 = 0.8196 pounds) (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Rachel Armstrong)

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