Allianz confident for 2016 after 'strong' year in 2015

19th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

German insurance giant Allianz said Friday it is "confident" for business this year after turning in a "strong" performance in 2015.

"Allianz steadily delivers strong results in increasingly challenging operating conditions. Our business is healthy and well-diversified," said chief executive Oliver Baete.

"This makes us confident that we will continue to deliver strong earnings."

Allianz notched up net profit of 6.616 billion euros ($7.4 billion) last year, an increase of 6.3 percent over the previous year.

Underlying or operating profit grew by 3.2 percent to 10.735 billion euros on a 2.4-percent increase in revenues to 125.2 billion euros.

Allianz said that both revenues and operating profit increased in its property and casualty insurance division, "despite a higher impact from natural catastrophes compared to the previous year."

In the life and health segment, revenues were down slightly, but operating profit increased.

Finance chief Dieter Wemmer said that overall group earnings were driven primarily by a very strong fourth quarter.

"Strong performance in our insurance operations plus performance fees in asset management in the fourth quarter drove full-year operating profit close to the top of the target earnings range," Wemmer said.

"Active risk management led to a strong capital ratio ... leaving us well prepared for today's volatile markets."

Looking ahead to the current year, Baete said Allianz was pencilling in operating profit of 10.5 billion euros in 2016, "plus or minus 500 million euros."

- Dividend disappoints -

Given the positive outlook, the group planned to pay a dividend of 7.30 euros per share for 2015, up from 6.85 euros for the previous year, Allianz said.

But investors appeared to have been expecting even more and Allianz were among the biggest losers on the Frankfurt stock exchange on Friday, shedding around 4.0 percent to hit an intraday low of 130.20 euros in a generally steady market.

"At first glance, the fourth-quarter result closely met expectations while, the dividend is probably marginally below what was hoped for," said DZ Bank analyst, Thorsten Wenzel.

Other analysts, including Werner Schirmer at LBBW, also felt the results to be disappointing, with the impact from natural catastrophes weighing on earnings.

Like other insurance companies, Allianz is feeling the pinch from the current environment of low interest rates, making it hard to generate high returns on investments for its customers.

In its asset management division, its flagship Pimco fund has seen a heavy outflow of funds in recent years, a string of senior departures, rumours of infighting and the resignation of US bond investor Bill Gross.

But Allianz insisted that the outflows had halved in 2015 compared with 2014.

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© 2016 AFP

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