Insurer Allianz raises guidance after profit jump
* Announces more ambitious 2020 profit target
* Shares down in early trade (Recasts, adds detail, shares)
MUNICH/FRANKFURT, Feb 21 (Reuters) – German insurance group Allianz announced a more ambitious profit target for this year after posting a better than expected 9.5% jump in fourth-quarter net profit on Friday.
The profit increase was largely driven by an improved investment margin in its largest division by revenue, health and life, but the insurer had to set aside 600 million euros ($647.7 million) in reserves as its struggling corporate business dragged on its property and casualty arm.
Shares were down 0.9% in early Frankfurt trade.
Allianz, which owns asset manager PIMCO, recorded quarterly net profit attributable to shareholders of 1.86 billion euros ($2 billion). That compared with a consensus forecast https://www.allianz.com/en/investor_relations/results-reports/results.html for 1.67 billion euros and was up from 1.7 billion euros a year ago.
The company has registered five years of rising profit and said that it would raise its operating profit target for 2020 by 4.3% to 12 billion euros, “plus or minus 500 million euros”. The increase brings it more in line with analyst expectations.
Allianz reported 2019 operating profit of 11.9 billion euros. That was in the upper end of a targeted range of 11.5 billion euros, plus or minus 500 million euros.
Finance chief Giulio Terzariol said the need to raise reserves for its corporate business was “disappointing”, resulting in the property and casualty division missing expectations.
Allianz’s combined ratio measure of profitability worsened to 99.6% in the fourth quarter, up 5.5 percentage points from a year earlier. Readings below 100 indicate profitability.
The company had on Thursday announced a share buyback programme for 2020 worth up to 1.5 billion euros.
Under Chief Executive Oliver Baete, Allianz has bought back 7.5 billion euros of its own shares.
($1 = 0.9264 euros)
(Reporting by Alexander Huebner and Tom Sims Editing by Thomas Seythal and David Goodman)
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