Vienna Insurance Profit Advances as Poland Drives Premiums

Vienna Insurance Group AG, eastern Europe’s biggest insurer, said second-quarter profit climbed 7 percent after premium growth in Poland offset weather-related claims.

Net income rose to 113.6 million euros ($141 million) from 106 million euros a year earlier, the Vienna-based company said today in a slide presentation. That beat the 109 million-euro average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Vienna Insurance, which derives more than half its earnings from the former communist bloc, reported premium growth of 19 percent after sales almost doubled in Poland. The insurer expanded distribution agreements with the country’s third-biggest lender, BRE Bank SA, after being outbid in January for KBC Groep NV’s Polish unit.

“Growth accelerated in the second quarter mainly because new forms of cooperation with a bank in Poland became effective,” Peter Hagen, who took over as chief executive officer in June, told reporters in Vienna today. The growth rate in Poland won’t stay at more than 90 percent as Vienna Insurance recorded in the first half of the year, he added. The company, which could spend about 1.5 billion euros, is still looking for acquisitions in Poland and Hungary, he said.

No Forecast

Vienna Insurance didn’t give a concrete earnings forecast as in previous quarters, saying only that its goal is to “keep volatilities low” and “improve profitability on a sustainable basis.” Full-year profit may rise 5 percent to 427 million euros, according to the average estimate of 15 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Hail and wind storms in central Europe, particularly in Austria and the Czech Republic, caused damage claims of 85 million euros in the first seven months of this year, Vienna Insurance said.

Vienna Insurance climbed 1.6 percent to 33.965 euros at the 5:30 p.m. close in Vienna, the biggest gain on the 32-member STOXX Insurance 600 index of European insurers, which fell 0.9 percent. The stock has advanced 11 percent this year.

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