AIA, the third-largest insurer in Asia in terms of market value, saw its shares open higher in Hong Kong on Friday after the value of its new business registered a strong performance in the first quarter. The insurer added 1.43 per cent to HK$52.95 at the start of trade before retreating to HK$51.6 as investors took profits off the table since the stock has gained 5 per cent since last week. According to its filing with the stock exchange, its new business value as measured by projected future profitability of new policies, increased 20 per cent to US$425 million from a year earlier. It said the margin is up 3 percentage points to 46.8 per cent in the first quarter. “This year is our fifth year since the IPO (initial public offerings) and our strong start to the year reflects the ongoing quality of our operating performance and the consistent execution of our growth strategy, which has enabled us to deliver a record first quarter value of new business of US$425 million,” it said. “Asia’s positive economic outlook and significant growth opportunities in the life insurance market remain highly attractive for AIA against a backdrop of continuing global macro uncertainty,” it said.