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Zurich Insurance Profit Climbs 82% After Gains From Investments

Zurich Insurance Group AG, Switzerland’s biggest insurer, said fourth-quarter profit rose 82 percent after higher capital gains on investments.

Net income increased to $983 million from $540 million a year earlier, the Zurich-based company said today in a statement. That beat the $521.1 million average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Business operating profit fell to $540 million from $983 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Zurich Insurance will keep its dividend unchanged at an 11- year high of 17 Swiss francs ($18.52) a share, after increasing the payout to that level in 2010. Net capital gains on debt and equity investments were $1.04 billion in the fourth quarter compared with a loss of $78 million in the year-earlier period.

“Results were better than expected, but only on the bottom line, which was clearly due to higher realized capital gains,” said Daniel Bischof, a Zurich-based analyst with Helvea. “For me the operating profit is more important, and there they were rather disappointing because of the general insurance business.”

Net capital gains on investments totaled $2.2 billion in 2012, driven by sales of debt and equity securities.

“We continue to execute our proven strategy, growing our business in emerging markets while delivering a resilient performance in mature markets,” Chief Executive Officer Martin Senn said in the statement today. “This strong underlying profitability ensures we remain well positioned to continue to deliver for our customers, employees and shareholders in 2013.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Carolyn Bandel in Zurich at cbandel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net

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