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QBE Insurance posts 35% jump in profit

Profit growth

(Reuters) — Australia’s QBE Insurance Group Ltd. said Thursday its first-half cash profit rose 35%, helped by lower claims losses and robust investment return.

The country’s third-largest listed insurer’s cash profit for the six months ended June 30 rose to $520 million from $385 million a year ago.

That sent the company’s shares as high as 3% to AU$12.44 ($8.39) in early trade, while the broader market was nearly 2% lower.

QBE is in recovery mode after a weak spell, having posted a record annual loss in 2017 as hurricanes swept the Atlantic and earthquakes rattled Mexico.

It had ended fiscal 2018 with a better-than-expected profit.

The insurer’s combined operating ratio — claims payouts against premium income — came in at 95.2%, slightly better than the midpoint of its projected range of 94.5% to 96.5% for fiscal 2019.

QBE reaffirmed its full-year forecast on Thursday and declared an interim dividend of 25 Australian cents a share, higher than the 22 cents interim payout of last year.


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