By Kwanwoo Jun

Samsung Life Insurance shares rose as solid quarterly earnings fueled market hopes it could offer much better shareholder returns.

Shares of the South Korean insurer rose as much as 7.8% to 88,100 won in Wednesday afternoon trading, outperforming the benchmark Kospi's 0.3% fall.

The company on Tuesday posted fourth-quarter net profit of KRW446 billion ($334.3 million), beating a FnGuide-compiled consensus estimate of KRW368 billion.

The upbeat results prompted market analysts to bet that Samsung Life Insurance could increase its dividend payments and buy back more shares.

NH Investment & Securities analyst Jung Jun-sup raised his target price for the stock by 14% to KRW99,000 to reflect the likelihood of the company preparing much better shareholder returns.

The NH analyst said in a research note Wednesday that he expects Samsung Life's dividend to rise to KRW4,000 a share this year, up from KRW3,700 in 2023.

DB Financial Investment analyst Byunggun Lee raised his target for the company by 6.5% to KRW99,000, expecting the dividend to rise to KRW4,400 a share this year.

The DB analyst said in a note that Samsung Life may be the only local insurer that can carry out share buybacks in the near future while sustaining growth in its cash dividend payments.

Write to Kwanwoo Jun at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

02-21-24 0102ET