Ping An Insurance (Group) said its 2015 net profit grew by 38 per cent on year to 54.20 billion yuan (HK$60.05 billion), matching analyst expectations, thanks to growth in its core finance business and fast-emerging internet business. The new business value (NBV) of life insurance rose to 30.84 billion yuan, an increase of 40.4 per cent over last year, compared to 20.9 per cent on-year growth in 2014. The number of individual life insurance sales agents rose to 870,000, up 36.9 per cent from year earlier. Dayton Wang, an insurance sector analyst with Guotai Junan International, said Ping An’s result was “in line with expectations”, although the NBV margin at 31.1 per cent growth was “a little off expectation.” Analysts were expecting profit in the range of 47.54 billion yuan to 64.27 billion yuan, representing a year on year increase of 21 per cent to 64 per cent, according to a poll of 13 brokers by AAstocks. During the 2014 financial year, Ping An Insurance saw its net profit increase 39.5 per cent year on year at 39.3 billion yuan. Its core finance businesses had an overall individual customer base of 109 million, of which new customers grew by 30 million. The number of internet users was about 242 million, up by 75.9 per cent over the beginning of the year, the report said. Ping An Insurance chairman and CEO Ma Mingzh said he does not expect the global economy to pick up in a major way in 2016. Ping An will build its future businesses more “mobile based, specialised, social networking-driven, and scenario-specific,” Ma said in the annual report. The report said its brokerage unit Ping An Securities recorded a record net profit of 2.48 billion yuan, an increase of 168.2 per cent up over the same period last year. Analysts have been recommending Ping An Insurance in recent weeks, after its valuation, together with peers, dropped to historical lows on the Hong Kong market. Ping An Insurance lost 0.85 per cent during Tuesday’s trading session in Hong Kong to close at HK$35. The forward price-to-earnings ratio stood at 10, while its price to book ratio was 1.4. Premiums on its life insurance business amounted to nearly 300 billion yuan. Premium income on its property & casualty business totalled 160 billion yuan. Total investment yield were a record 7.8 per cent, the report said. “Ping An’s investment capabilities has made it more resilient to the volatilities on capital markets, than peer listed life insurers,” Wang said. The Insurer started diversifying its investments overseas in 2013, when it bought the Lloyd’s of London building for US$390 million. In January it bought Tower Place in London’s insurance district for US$490 million. As at the end of 2015, Lufax, a peer-to-peer lending platform under the group had 18.31 million registered users, and maintained its industry lead with a trading volume of 1.53 trillion yuan during the year, the report said. Total assets of the group were about 4.77 trillion yuan, the annual report said.