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Allianz slips on Greece and weather events

Global insurer Allianz missed market expectations for full-year net income as exposure to Greek debt and natural catastrophes wreaked havoc on its bottom line.

Full-year net income for the German insurer fell 49.6% to €2.55 billion ($3.17 billion), exceeded only by a larger decline in fourth-quarter net income, down 56.7% to €492 million ($612.26 million).

Analysts were predicting full-year income would surpass €3 billion ($3.7 billion), but last year Allianz suffered €1.9 billion ($2.36 billion) worth of impairments and €1.8 billion ($2.24 billion) in natural disaster claims – the latter the highest in the company’s history.

Of €1.9 billion in impairments worn by the group, two-thirds were tied to stock market investments and writedowns in the value of Greek sovereign debt.

Allianz SE shares on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange were largely unmoved at €89.23 ($111.05) at the close of trading Thursday.

Despite the cost of weather-related claims, the casualty and insurance wing of Allianz remained profitable with a combined ratio of 97.8%, despite rising six percentage points since 2010.

“This year we made significantly higher payments to our customers for natural catastrophes than in 2010, which was already a difficult year,” Allianz CFO Oliver Bäte said.

Gross written premium rose to an all-time high of €44.8 billion ($55.76 billion), up 2% on the previous year. Allianz said revenues were particularly strong in the UK, South America and Australia.

However, the cost and frequency of claims – including exposure to events in Japan, New Zealand, Australia and Thailand – meant net income fell 1.7% to €790 million ($983.3 million) for the final quarter and 9.4% to €3.1 billion ($3.85 billion) for the year.

Despite the drop in full-year profitability, Allianz has maintained its €4.50 ($5.60) per share dividend.

CEO Michael Diekmann says the company will raise its 2012 full-year profit outlook to €8.2 billion ($10.2 billion) with a 6% margin of error.

“We are expecting similar global economic conditions in 2012 with a moderate improvement in the second half of the year,” Mr Diekmann said.

The most recent data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) shows Allianz’s local operations were in a good state of health at June 30 last year.

For the 12 months to June last year, Allianz Australia made $10.66 million in net profit on $71.2 million in gross earned premium.

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