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Swiss Re profit rises; commercial insurance reports loss

Swiss Re

(Reuters) – Reinsurer Swiss Reinsurance Ltd. reported on Thursday a smaller-than-expected profit in 2019 due to claims for a series of man-made and natural disasters, as well as expenses for its U.S. casualty business, sending its shares lower.

Net profit in the year rose 73% to $727 million, up from $421 million in 2018, but analysts had expected a net profit of $1.32 billion, according to Refinitiv.

Shares were down 4.9% in midmorning trade.

“We are taking proactive measures to put us at the forefront of adverse trends,” Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler said.

The Zurich-based company pointed to losses from typhoons in Japan, a hurricane in the Atlantic, wildfires and floods in Australia and problems with the Boeing 737 MAX fleet.

The corporate insurance arm also lost $647 million in the year, wider than a $405 million loss in 2018.

The company said it had set aside more reserves to cover increasingly large jury awards in the United States that affect its casualty business.

Swiss Re’s combined ratio in its property and casualty division, a key measure of profitability, worsened to 107.8% versus 104% a year earlier. The company had expected the division's ratio to be about 98% this year.