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Catastrophes cut Allianz profits


FRANKFURT (Reuters)—German insurer Allianz S.E.'s net profit fell 45% in the first quarter, hit by damage claims from the earthquake in Japan and other natural disasters.

Quarterly net profit after minorities fell to €857 million ($1.23 billion) from €1.6 billion ($2.3 billion) in the year-earlier quarter, Europe's biggest insurer said in a statement.

Allianz had already released preliminary results at its annual shareholder meeting on May 4.

The insurer repeated on Thursday that it was on track to meet its 2011 goal of earning an operating profit of around €8 billion ($11.48 billion), give or take €500 million ($717.7 million).

“All in all, good results in a difficult quarter,” said a Frankfurt-based trader.

The divisional results showed quarterly operating profit fell in Allianz's main businesses of property/casualty and life-health insurance.

Property/casualty was hit by €737 million ($1.06 billion) in natural catastrophe claims, nearly €700 million ($1 million) of which was from earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, as well as flooding in Australia.

“The past quarter took one of the hardest hits from natural catastrophes of any quarter in the last two decades,” Chief Financial Officer Oliver Baete said in the statement.

Allianz said it expected a hit of around €60 million ($86.1 million) in the second quarter from tornadoes in the United States, adding that it had no forecast yet for claims linked to the latest flooding along the Mississippi River.

Life-health insurance revenues fell 7% from the year-earlier quarter, and operating profit was hit by lower investment results in the segment.

“We are on track in the life-health segment, despite challenges such as tough competition in France, Italy and the Asia-Pacific region and exchange rate effects based on the strong euro,” Baete said.

Asset management revenues grew strongly, helping to push operating profit up 13% in the division that houses Allianz Global Investors and PIMCO, which operates the world's largest bond fund.

Third-party assets under management rose 11% to €1.14 trillion ($1.64 trillion) at end-March from a year-earlier, Allianz said.

Allianz's share price has risen by more than 14% since the start of the year, outpacing the 11% rise in the Stoxx Europe 600 insurance index, but lagging a 20% gain at Europe's second-biggest insurer Axa S.A.

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