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Limited catastrophe losses buoy Allianz; Alberta wildfires an industry event

Limited catastrophe losses buoy Allianz; Alberta wildfires an industry event

Insurer Allianz S.E. posted double-digit growth in first-quarter net income amid limited natural catastrophe losses.

The Munich-based insurer said its net income rose to €2.29 billion ($2.61 billion), up 18.5% from the same period in 2015.

“I think the quality of the results is really good,” Chief Financial Officer Dieter Wemmer said Wednesday during the company's conference call.

The insurer's property/casualty gross premiums written reached €17.2 billion ($19.61 billion) in the first quarter of 2016, a 0.5% decrease year-on-year due to negative foreign exchange effects, according to the release. But the segment's operating profit grew 12% to €1.44 billion ($1.64 billion) as a decrease in investment income was bested by much lower claims from natural catastrophes – with about €20 million ($22.8 million) in losses – and lower restructuring expenses, the insurer said. The division's combined ratio improved 1.3 points to 93.3%.

“I'm not sure that you can call €20 million a cat event, so it was (a) cat-free quarter,” Mr. Wemmer said during the conference call.

He also predicted that the Alberta wildfires would not have a major impact on Allianz despite industrywide losses projected at roughly $7 billion.

“In the second quarter, certainly the industry will see more cat events,” Mr. Wemmer said. “The Canadian wildfire, which is still devastating Alberta, is certainly creating a fairly sizable insurance event for the industry. We are not very big in Canada, so I don't think that it will hit Allianz a lot, but it is a big industry event.”

The company's German property/casualty operations had a particularly strong quarter, “benefitting from a really, really pleasant winter, not good for the skiers, but (good) for everybody else and, in particular, the insurer,” Mr. Wemmer said, as revenue increased 2.6% to €4.3 billion ($4.90 billion) and its combined ratio improved 9 points to 89%.

The Allianz World Partners' division was adversely affected by the Zika virus outbreak, with its combined ratio climbing to 101.2%, amid rising travel cancellations, Mr. Wemmer said.

“It's not only happening in Brazil,” he said. “You can also see it in Munich.”

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