Insurer Swiss Life profits nearly double

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Insurer and pensions specialist Swiss Life on Wednesday recorded a near doubling of its first half net profit with sharp growth in business in major European markets.

The company said cost-cutting measures were also bearing fruit as six month net profit reached 269 million Swiss francs (258 million dollars, 200 million euros), up 93.5 percent over the same period last year.

Premiums and policy fees grew nearly 18 percent to 12.2 billion francs, with strong operational growth in France and Germany.

"Our first-half performance shows that we are on track with our 2012 targets," chief executive Bruno Pfister said in a statement.

"Although we face great challenges because of the low interest rate environment and tougher competition, we are confident that we will achieve our goals for 2010," he added.

Operating profit jumped from 10.3 billion francs to 20.4 billion francs.

Swiss Life annual net profit slumped by nearly a fifth to 277 million francs during a year of job cuts in 2009, hurt by losses incurred by the German subsidiary, AWD, after an even sharper fall in 2008.

The company's share price rose by 5.0 percent in early trading (0732 GMT) on the Swiss exchange to 107.1 francs.

Analysts at Bank Wegelin welcomed the "solid" growth in premiums.

"Even the problem child AWD appears at least to be on the way to getting better," they said in a daily note to investors, adding a note of caution about the uncertain economic recovery.

© 2010 AFP

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