Shares in Prudential(LSE: PRU) have lost 19% in the past 12 months, to 1,327p. That surprises me as the City's analysts are expecting Wednesday's full year results to show a 14% rise in earnings per share (EPS), which would put the shares on an undemanding P/E of 12.3. The Pru's dividend is likely to yield only around 3%, which is lower than some of its rivals -- but at nearly 2.8 times, the dividend cover is about the best in the business.
The company's exposure to Asia might be partly behind the share price slip. But for the nine months to September 2015, Prudential revealed a 24% increase in new business profit from the region, helping spur a 13% rise in new business profit overall. An upbeat Mike Wells, chief executive, said: "We remain optimistic about the outlook across the Group, particularly in Asia where the compelling long-term fundamentals of the region are unchanged".
Prudential, as a byword for a long-term cautious approach, is well named. I really can't see any surprises coming with Wednesday's results, and I expect forecasts to be pretty close to the mark. Analysts have Prudential on a pretty solid buy consensus and I agree.
Aviva(LSE: AV), whose full year results are due on Thursday, is offering an altogether meatier dividend with a yield of 4.4% on the cards as it recovers from being slashed as a result of the financial crisis. That's after the shares fell 17% in 12 months to 462p, and forecasts have the dividend rising to 5.1% this year, and then 6% in 2017. Cover by earnings would stand at around 1.9 times, which is quite a bit less than Prudential's but still seems solid enough.
The first nine months of 2015 saw the value of Aviva's new business boosted by 25%, and the company saw new capital inflows of £2.2bn to take its funds under management to £7.3bn. With the acquisition of Friends Life apparently going well, and with chief executive Mark Wilson speaking of "£91m of savings against our target of £225m", I reckon Aviva's post-crunch turnaround plan is delivering the goods.
With another hefty buy consensus from the City, I think Thursday's results are unlikely to disappoint.
Even bigger dividend
Unlike the previous two, Old Mutual(LSE: OML) has relatively slow EPS growth forecast, and that's left its shares on the lowest P/E multiples too, just 9.5 for the year just ended and dropping to 8.9 on 2017 predictions. But the dividend, to be announced on Friday, is expected to yield 5.1% with the shares priced at 192p. Cover by earnings should be strong, at a little over two times.
The weakness of Old Mutual shares is down to its more considerable exposure to developing markets and to its ownership of South Africa's Nedbank (and the South African economy is not at its strongest). But a Q3 update told us that Old Mutual Emerging Markets was up 8% to £2.6bn, while Old Mutual Wealth had gained 45% to £5.5bn. Net inflows came to £1.6bn, so it does look like the market's fears are exaggerated.
The pundits have a bullish buy rating out on Old Mutual, and I'm with them once again. I see a tempting long-term prospect, and I'm not too worried about shorter-term emerging markets fears.
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Alan Oscroft owns shares in Aviva. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.