Swiss Re has announced a net profit of SFr150 million ($132.25 million) for the first quarter of 2009, a fall of 75 per cent compared with the same period in 2008.
But despite the decline from SFr600 million for the first quarter last year, the result was better than the market had expected and put the company in the black. Shares shot up by 23 per cent to SFr36 by early afternoon before closing the day up 11.83 per cent at SFr32.70.
Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurance company, had closed the books on 2008 with a loss of SFr864 million.
The new chief executive, Stefan Lippe, said in a statement on Thursday that the company was pleased Swiss Re had returned to profit in the first quarter of 2009.
"More importantly, we strengthened our capital base and made progress on our plans to reduce risk," he said. "The results show that even in this challenging economic environment Swiss Re's earnings power in its core business remains strong."
Swiss Re said last month that it planned to cut ten per cent of its 11,560 staff within a year after posting a record loss that forced it to turn to veteran United States investor Warren Buffet for a SFr3 billion capital injection.
swissinfo.ch with agencies
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