The reception area of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. File picture: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - Discovery, owner of South Africa’s largest medical-insurance administrator, said fiscal full-year profit rose 57 percent as its insurance unit sold more policies and a rising stock market boosted investments.

Net income increased to 3.25 billion rand, from 2.06 billion rand a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today.

Diluted earnings a share excluding one-time items was 5.28 rand, missing the median 5.97 rand estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Discovery was started by Adrian Gore, chief executive officer, in 1992 and has expanded from health insurance into life and property insurance as well as investments.

Discovery operates in countries including South Africa, the UK, the US, Australia and China.

Last year, it increased its stake in the health insurance unit of Shenzhen, China-based Ping An Insurance to 25 percent from 20 percent.

The group is positioned “strongly for continued growth and profitability into the future,” Discovery said in the statement.

The company will pay a dividend of 78 cents a share, compared with the 77-cent estimate compiled by Bloomberg.

Discovery has climbed 18 percent this year, outpacing the 11 percent increase of the 163-member FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index.

The shares rose 1 percent to 100.25 rand as of 9:38 am in Johannesburg trading. - Bloomberg News