Insurer QBE has trimmed its final dividend amid a surge in natural disaster costs, though the insurer has still managed to lift its statutory profit 41 per cent to $US550 million.
The firm’s revenue from continuing operations slipped one per cent to to $US15.19 billion for the 12 months to December 31, reflecting the sale of the Indonesia and the Philippines insurance arms, and the travel business and wool and livestock-intransit businesses in Australia during the year.
Gross written premiums fell 1.6 per cent, or $US185 million, to $US13.44 billion.
The higher disaster costs follow a summer of bushfires which ravaged Australia, and unusually wet spring weather which impacted US crop insurance.
QBE’s total cost of large individual risk and catastrophe claims came in at $US1.381 billion for the year, representing 11.9 per cent of net earned premium compared to 9.8 per cent a year ago when the total catastrophe figure was $US1.163 billion.
The difficult spring weather in the US affected the crop planting of many farmers, and reduced their yield.
QBE’s final dividend will be AU27 cents, franked at 30 per cent, down from AU28 cents, 60 per cent franked, 12 months ago.
QBE chairman W. Marston Becker last week said he would step down from his role and the board.
Director Mike Wilkins will replace him as chair.
QBE CUTS DIVIDEND, LIFTS NET PROFIT
* Income from continuing operations up 1.0pct to $US15.19bn
* Gross written premiums down 1.6pct to $US13.44bn
* Net profit up 41pct to $US550m
* Final dividend AU27 cents, 30 pct franked vs AU28 cents, 60pct franked pcp