May 15 (Bloomberg) -- Scor SE, France’s largest reinsurer, said first-quarter profit climbed 6.7 percent, helped by higher premiums and fewer natural-disaster claims.
Net income rose to 111 million euros ($143 million) from 104 million euros a year earlier, the Paris-based company said today. That compares with the 109 million-euro average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
“It’s a quarter that shows the financial solidity and the quality of our development,” Chief Executive Officer Denis Kessler, 61, said on a call with journalists. “Europe’s economic difficulties have a smaller impact on us than on other industries.”
Reinsurers take on portions of risks such as natural disasters, pandemics or personal accidents from insurers, events that have little link with the economic cycle. The French economy fell into its third recession in four years as gross domestic product declined 0.2 percent in the three months through March, national statistics office Insee said today.
Scor dropped 0.9 percent to 22.89 euros as of 9:54 a.m. in Paris trading, giving the company a market value of about 4.4 billion euros. The stock has gained 12 percent in 2013, while the 28-member Bloomberg Europe 500 Insurance Index has risen 13 percent this year.
Scor has a “realistic” target for 2013 premiums to exceed 10 billion euros, Kessler said. Premiums last year reached 9.51 billion euros, according to the firm’s website.
Spending on claims and costs as a percentage of property and casualty reinsurance premiums -- the so-called combined ratio -- improved to 90.4 percent in the quarter from 92.5 percent a year earlier, helped by a “very low level” of natural catastrophes, Scor said. A ratio above 100 percent means claims and costs exceed premium income, leaving a loss from underwriting.
The company said in a separate statement that Mark Kociancic, a 43-year-old Canadian who was Scor’s deputy chief financial officer, is replacing Paolo De Martin as CFO. De Martin, 43, is taking a sabbatical and will rejoin management in a new role at the start of next year.
To contact the reporter on this story: Fabio Benedetti-Valentini in Paris at email@example.com