Shares of the Zurich Financial Services Group closed down by 7.8 per cent on Thursday, following news that the company's normalised net profit in US dollars for 2000 would fall below 1999 levels.
The share price tumbled by eight per cent on the Zurich Stock Exchange in early trading, but recovered only slightly by the time the market closed.
In a statement, Zurich said the weaker profits were down to an unexpected reserve strengthening for reinsurance and exceptionally severe weather-related claims.
However, it added that earnings per share expressed in Swiss francs would rise by close to 10 per cent and that it expected stronger revenue growth in several key markets this year.
Zurich's profit last year was $2.286 billion (SFr3.75 billion). The company will provide more details on the developments when it presents its audited financial results on March 22.
swissinfo with agencies