Axa Profit Climbs 2.3% Led by U.S., French Life Insurance

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Axa SA said first-half profit rose 2.3 percent, helped by higher life-insurance earnings in the U.S. and France.

Net income at France’s biggest insurer climbed to 3.08 billion euros ($3.37 billion) from 3.01 billion euros a year earlier, Paris-based Axa said in a statement on Tuesday. That matched the 3.08 billion-euro average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Operating profit rose 12 percent to 3.1 billion euros, beating an estimate of 2.93 billion euros.

Axa is benefiting from the dollar’s gains, which has increased income in euros from its U.S. unit, which contributes about a fifth of the company’s life-insurance earnings. Economic recovery in Europe and this year’s rally in stock markets are also helping it attract more client investments.

Axa is “very well placed” to reach its financial targets, Chief Executive Officer Henri de Castries, 60, said in the statement.

The shares rose 0.4 percent to 24.35 euros at 9:45 a.m. in Paris trading, extending gains this year to 27 percent and valuing the company at 59.5 billion euros. The 35-member Bloomberg Europe 500 Insurance Index has advanced 13 percent since Jan. 1.

Profit at the life and savings division, Axa’s largest, was 1.9 billion euros, up from 1.7 billion euros a year earlier, it said. Sales rose 23 percent in the U.S. and 9 percent in France.

The combined ratio, a measure of costs versus revenue, fell to 95.1 percent from 95.8 percent in the first half of last year. The economic solvency ratio, which measures financial strength, rose to 215 percent from 201 percent in 2014.

Profit at Axa’s asset-management operations rose 21 percent to 222 million euros, the insurer said. Axa Investment Managers had net inflows of 28 billion euros in the first half, mostly in Asia. That compared with inflows of 11 billion euros a year earlier. Total assets were 694 billion euros.

AllianceBernstein, Axa’s U.S. fund-management unit, had first-half net new money of about 7 billion euros, it said.

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