May 17, 2018 / 6:33 AM / a year ago

Just Group first quarter sales boosted by pension deals, shares jump

LONDON (Reuters) - Shares in specialist British pensions provider Just Group (JUSTJ.L) jumped 7 percent on Thursday after it posted a sharp rise in first-quarter sales helped by its company pension scheme business.

Just, which focuses on annuities for people with shortened life expectancy, recorded a 43 percent rise in retirement income sales to 454 million pounds, it said in a trading statement.

Just's shares were trading around three-month highs at 150.4 pence at 0711 GMT, the second best performer in the FTSE mid-cap index .FTMC.

Sales of bulk annuities - insuring company defined benefit, or final salary, pension schemes - jumped 99 percent to 249 million pounds.

The UK bulk annuity market is growing as many defined benefit schemes are in deficit and companies are looking to pass the risk on to an insurer.

“The pipeline remains strong across our main products,

particularly in defined benefit de-risking,” Chief Executive Rodney Cook said.

Sales of individual annuities, which pay a fixed income for life, rose 8 percent to 188 million pounds.

Retirement income sales were 14 percent above consensus estimates, Numis analysts said, describing the results as “exceptionally strong” and reiterating their buy rating on the stock.

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Sinead Cruise and Jason Neely

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