Zurich Insurance Swings to Profit in the Fourth Quarter


 Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- Zurich Insurance Group AG swung to a profit in the fourth quarter as losses from last year weren’t repeated.

Switzerland’s biggest insurer posted a net income of $685 million compared to a loss of $424 million a year earlier when the company booked an operating loss in general insurance, the Zurich-based company said Thursday in a statement.

Full-year net income amounted to $3.2 billion, matching the average of 10 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Zurich proposed a dividend of 17 Swiss francs ($17.06), unchanged from a year ago.

“We are very pleased with our results for 2016. Both Global Life and Farmers continued to grow well while General Insurance benefited from a stronger underlying performance across all regions," Chief Executive Officer Mario Greco said in the statement.

Greco is stepping up cost cuts and selling some businesses as ultra-low interest rates chip away at investment income and below-average catastrophe claims keep prices under tap. He told a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month that he fears the industry may not survive if negative yields on bonds persist.

The combined ratio in general insurance was 98.4 percent for the full year. A measure of more than 100 means the unit is paying out more in claims and costs than it’s collecting in premiums.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jan-Henrik Förster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net, Jeffrey Vögeli in Zurich at jvogeli@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Neil Callanan at ncallanan@bloomberg.net, Michael J. Moore at mmoore55@bloomberg.net, Cindy Roberts, Andrew Blackman

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