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China Insurance Sector - COVID-19 hampers ST sales; LT potential intact

作者: Felix LUO,Allen Feng
時間: 2020年02月26日
重要性: 一般報告
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摘要: Report title:China Insurance Sector - COVID-19 hampers ST sales; LT potential intact
Analyst:Felix LUO,Allen Feng
Report type:Industry
Date:20200226
[Summary]

■ Ping An’s individual FYP down yoy in January
■ Long-term potential of Life & Health insurance unsullied
■ Maintain OVERWEIGHT

Growth of Ping An’s individual FYP dropped in January
Ping An’s individual First Year Premium in January dropped by 15% yoy (Figure 1). Ping An (2318 HK, BUY) earlier indicated it would not emphasize the “Jumpstart” campaign in 2020. It is also possible that Ping An pre-booked some 2020 pre-sales in December, 2019 for it recorded a high yoy growth (~48%) of individual FYP in December. These could be two reasons that explain the negative growth of FYP in January. In addition, Ping An’s policy sales in the near term may have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. At its 2019 annual results briefing, management suggested that policy sales and NBV might be impacted in 1Q20 (for it is difficult for agents to meet potential clients and close sales in person amidst the outbreak) but are expected to resume healthy growth in 2H20 and 2021. Moreover, January’s growth rate figure might be distorted due to the fact that Chinese New Year was in January this year. We believe Ping An possesses a long-term competitive advantage powered by its agent force, whose per-agent NBV is significantly higher than those of peers. Management reiterated that life agent channel’s current focuses are on agent productivity and agent income.

Long-term potential of Life & Health insurance unsullied
Industry-wide policy sales in the short term can be affected. The general public are instructed to avoid social gatherings. As a result, life insurance agents may find it difficult to reach out to potential clients and have contracts signed. However, we believe Life & Health insurers’ long-term growth potential remains intact: 1) the COVID-19 outbreak will likely further boost the popularization of health insurance products as the general public becomes more informed of potential health risks; 2) nationwide health GWP maintained a fast growth at 26% yoy in 2019 (Figure 3); 3) China's total health expenditure as a percentage of GDP was 6.4%; total household out-of-pocket spending as a share of total health care expenditure was 36.1% in 2017 (source: WHO) and 28.7% in 2018 (source: National Health Commission), still way above that of developed countries. For China, individuals carry heavy expenditure burdens while not being insured enough (Figure 4); 4) life insurance density in China as measured by per capita life premium was ~USD221 in 2018, and life insurance penetration as measured by life premium as percentage of GDP was only 2.3%, both significantly lower than those in developed countries (Figures 5-6).

Top picks: China Life (2628 HK) and Ping An (2318 HK)
Life insurance sector is trading at ~1.6x 20E P/B. We maintain our OVERWEIGHT rating for the sector on its long-term growth potential and undemanding valuation. Top picks: China Life with a TP of HKD28.5, equivalent to ~1.75x 20E P/B or ~0.65x 20E P/EV; China Life is trading at 0.44x 20E P/EV, undervalued; Ping An with a TP of HKD116.9, equivalent to ~2.3x 20E P/B or ~1.40x 20E P/EV, on the basis that its high-quality agent force powers its long-term competitive advantage. Key catalysts: a good capital market, higher-than-expected NBV growths; Key downside risks: an adverse capital market, lower-than-expected NBV growths, a declining 750D-MA government bond yield.

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