Standard Life Aberdeen profit hit by pandemic, Lloyds withdrawal

Standard Life Aberdeen profit hit by pandemic, Lloyds withdrawal
LONDON (Reuters) – Standard Life Aberdeen’s clients switched to more defensive assets in the first half and the coronavirus pandemic meant tough times ahead, its outgoing CEO Keith Skeoch said after the asset manager’s profit dropped 30%.

A swift return to economic growth was not guaranteed, with the shape of any recovery dependent on whether a vaccine can be found to halt COVID-19, Skeoch said on Friday after SLA’s first half pre-tax profit fell to 195 million pounds ($255 million).

This was above expectations of 179 million pounds and followed a 10% fall in first-half profit reported by SLA’s rival Schroders last week.

“The outlook for markets is tough. I don’t think this recovery without a vaccine is going to be V-shaped, it’s going to be W-shaped,” he told a media call, adding that the success of vaccines for some strains of flu was only around 40%.

SLA said it would pay an interim dividend of 7.3 pence per share, unchanged from a year ago but above a forecast 6.8 pence.

KBW analysts described the results as a “mixed bag” but highlighted the retention of the dividend, retaining their “market perform” rating on the stock.

SLA’s shares were steady at 264 pence at 0748 GMT, against a 0.2% gain in the FTSE 100.

Skeoch also said the importance of responsible investing was “something the COVID crisis is going to accelerate”.

SLA’s fee-based revenue dropped 13% to 706 million pounds due to 2019 outflows, clients switching to lower-fee assets, and a scheduled withdrawal of assets by Lloyds Banking Group. This was below analyst forecasts of 717 million pounds.

The firm’s assets under management and administration fell 6% to 512 billion pounds, above a forecast 506 billion.

($1=0.7635 pounds)

Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Alexander Smith

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