Frankfurt: Europe’s biggest insurer, Allianz, joined a slew of insurers reporting improving sales from consumers seeking investment-oriented products as memories of the financial crisis fade.
Allianz’s operating profit rose by more than a fifth in the second quarter, with all three main business lines — property-casualty insurance, life-health insurance and asset management — performing better than expected.
“Based on this very good result, we are confident that we can achieve our outlook for operating profit for the entire year of around €7.2 billion ($9.5 billion), with a fluctuation range of plus or minus €500 million,” Allianz chief executive Michael Diekmann said in a statement on Friday.
Quarterly net profit of €1 billion missed expectations, which Allianz said was due to lower asset sales compared with the year-earlier quarter, when the insurer sold shares in Chinese bank ICBC.
Total revenues rose almost 15% in the second quarter, and were up 20% in the life and health insurance business on strong demand for unit-linked insurance with guarantees, as well as for traditional life insurance.
The upturn tallied with stronger life sales reported by France’s Axa on Wednesday and suggests that European consumers are no longer putting off major savings and investment decisions as economies recover.
Underwriting performance in property and casualty insurance, Allianz’s main money spinner, improved from a year earlier dspite a €255 million hit from natural catastrophe claims.
“While in the second quarter soft market conditions persisted in many insurance markets, positive price effects were observed in several of our core markets,” chief financial officer Oliver Baete said in the statement.
“Quarterly operating profit growth shows progress in terms of underwriting, claims management and productivity,” he added.
Net profit was below the €1.16 billion average of 14 estimates in a Reuters poll of banks and brokerages, and down 46% from 1.87 billion euros in the year-earlier quarter, which was boosted by asset sales.
Allianz shares are up 3.5% since the start of the year, in line with the Stoxx 600 Europe insurance index.
According to Thomson Reuters StarMine, which weights analysts’ forecasts according to their track record, Allianz trades at over 8 times 12-month forward earnings, slightly lagging AXA, Europe’s No. 2 insurer, at a multiple of 8.4.