February 6, 2019 / 7:35 AM / 3 months ago

Munich Re net profit drops 56 percent in fourth-quarter, proposes dividend increase

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German reinsurer Munich Re on Wednesday reported a 56 percent decline in fourth quarter net profit after a spate of natural catastrophes but proposed raising its dividend for 2018.

The company logo of German reinsurer Munich Re is seen before the company's annual news conference in Munich, Germany, March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Net profit fell to 238 million euros (£209.4 million) from 538 million a year earlier but met expectations.

It proposed a dividend of 9.25 euros per share, up from 8.60 euros for 2017 and higher than analysts had expected, a Reuters poll showed.

For the full year, the company posted a jump in net profit to 2.275 billion euros, in line with its target, from 392 million euros in 2017, the costliest year ever for the industry after a slew of natural disasters.

Munich Re had aimed to post a 2018 full-year profit of 2.1 to 2.5 billion euros.

“We are very satisfied with the overall result for 2018,” Chief Financial Officer Christoph Jurecka said.

The drop in net profit in the fourth quarter followed two wildfires in California, with losses of around 430 million euros.

Munich Re’s combined ratio, a measure of profitability, was 105.1 percent in the fourth quarter for its reinsurance business, worse than 103.9 percent a year ago.

Munich Re and the insurance industry are bouncing back from a series of major hurricanes, fires and earthquakes in North America in 2017. Reinsurers have been under pressure in recent years from falling prices amid intense competition.

Munich Re said that prices of contract renewals in January were “stable” but that the market environment was expected to improve during the next round in April.

Reporting by Tom Sims; editing by Thomas Seythal

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