Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest reinsurer, has reported that its net profit more than doubled in the first half to SFr1.4 billion ($1.1 billion) from SFr691 million in the same period last year.
The Zurich-based company said on Thursday that low claims and strong investment income had contributed to the better-than-expected result.
It comes five months after Swiss Re announced a return to profit, reporting net income of SFr1.7 billion for 2003 after two years in the red.
In the first six months of 2004 Swiss Re benefited, along with rival reinsurers, from a more than 50 per cent drop in catastrophe claims in the United States.
Last year the Swiss firm earned 42 per cent of its property and casualty premiums in the US.
The company also reported an “excellent” investment result of SFr3.1 billion, but warned that this “may not be repeated” in the second half.
But Swiss Re’s chief executive officer, John Coomber, was upbeat about the firm’s prospects for the remainder of the year.
“Swiss Re is on track to deliver strong results in 2004,” he said in a statement.
Like other reinsurers, Swiss Re has been recovering from a number of loss-making years. In 2002, the company posted a loss of SFr91 million.
After returning to profit in 2003, the firm received another boost with the decision by a New York jury earlier this year to limit its liability for the collapsed World Trade Center.
Last month, Swiss Re announced it was increasing its hold on the consolidating British insurance market by buying up the British Life Assurance Holding Corporation for £333 million (SFr830 million).
swissinfo with agencies
Net profit doubled in the first six months of the year to SFr1.4 billion ($1.1 billion).
Investment income totalled SFr3.1 billion.
Claims in property and casualty reinsurance fell by 11%.