Swiss Re posts 74% full-year earnings jump

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Swiss Re, one of the world's biggest reinsurers, posted Thursday a 74 percent jump in annual net income at $863 million (635 million euros), although it fell short of analysts' expectations.

Analysts polled by Swiss economic news agency had expected $1.2 billion in profits for 2010.

The group's property and casualty underwriting services was hurt by high natural disaster claims.

Flooding in Queensland, Australia, was expected to have an impact of $100 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, while preliminary estimate of claims from the floods in 2011 was forecast to reach $225 million.

In addition, claims from the Australian cyclone Yasi was seen reaching $100 million.

Nevertheless, the company, a pillar of the global reinsurance industry, has gradually been rebuilding its capital base in a business turnaround since it shed the risky investment policy that left it trembling about two years ago.

In 2008 Swiss Re posted its biggest-ever loss of 864 million Swiss francs, forcing the group to turn to Wall Street sage Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway for fresh funds in the form of a 20-percent stake in the company.

In November 2010 it announced that it had repaid Berkshire Hathaway.

On Thursday the group also reassured investors, saying that its capital stood at over $10 billion in excess of ratings agency Standard & Poor's AA requirements at the end of 2010.

© 2011 AFP

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