Net profit surges 12% at France's AXA insurance
French insurance group AXA, number two in Europe after German giant Allianz, said Wednesday its net profit surged 12 percent last year to 5.02 billion euros ($5.7 billion).
The insurer will propose a dividend of 95 euro cents per share, a 17 percent increase over that of 2013, it added.
The result, attributed to strong sales in the group's life and savings businesses, however fell short of analysts' predictions averaging 5.22 billion euros.
"Even though the global economic landscape remains uncertain, the group has shown its ability to generate results that are perfectly in line with its long-term goals," chief executive Henri de Castries told a news conference.
Operating profit reached 5.0 billion euros for the first time, a 7.0 percent increase over 2013, the company said.
The group also benefited from an increase in the accounting value of its financial assets and lower restructuring costs.
The upbeat announcement boosted the group's share price by 2.38 percent to 21.94 euros in early afternoon trading on Wednesday in an otherwise steady French bourse.
Revenue was up 1.0 percent to 92 billion euros.
The return on equity decreased slightly, by 0.3 percentage points, to 14.5 percent, but remained on target.
"We are well positioned to successfully conclude our (five-year strategic) plan in 2015," the group's financial director, Gerald Harlin, said in the earnings statement.
"We will continue to diversify our geographical footprint and business mix, as well as further improve our operational efficiency, which should help us perform well even in a low interest rate environment."
The group has realised 1.6 billion euros in savings since 2011, and has raised its cost-cutting target to 1.9 billion euros from 1.7 billion euros by the end of 2015, chief executive Henri de Castries told a news conference.
© 2015 AFP