Munich Re Profit Beats Estimates on Currency, Investments

  • German reinsurance company confirms its 2016 earnings target
  • Currency effects following U.K. Brexit vote benefited company

Inflation Will Sooner or Later Go up, Says Munich Re CEO

Munich Re, the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, reported second-quarter profit that beat analysts’ expectations as gains from currencies and investments cushioned higher claims from natural disasters and restructuring charges at its Ergo primary-insurance unit.

Net income declined to 974 million euros ($1.08 billion) from 1.1 billion euros a year earlier, the Munich-based company said in a statement on Tuesday. That compares with the 479 million-euro average of eight estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Munich Re confirmed its full-year earnings target of 2.3 billion euros, having cut it in May.

Joerg Schneider

Photographer: Guenter Schiffmann/Bloomberg

“After a rather disappointing first quarter, our net result in the second quarter was strong,” Chief Financial Officer Joerg Schneider said in a statement. “To a large extent, this was driven by non-recurring effects that were -– on balance -– positive.”

Gains from selling investments and currency effects following the U.K.’s Brexit vote in June helped offset higher claims in the quarter. Munich Re’s major claims bill more than doubled to 542 million euros from 207 million euros a year ago. Losses included wild fires in Canada and earthquakes in Japan. Still, industry losses from such natural disasters were in line with the 10-year average for the first six months of the year, according to Munich Re estimates.

Pricing Pressure

As a result, demand for reinsurance which primary insurers buy to help them shoulder risks, is still subdued. Rates declined in eight of the past 10 years, according to the Guy Carpenter World Property Catastrophe Rate-on-Line Index. “Pressure on prices, terms and conditions remained high in this renewal round,” Munich Re said.

Munich Re’s earnings from investments rose 9.1 percent to 2.75 billion euros in the quarter, helped by disposals of fixed-income securities, the company said. The reinsurer also booked a currency gain of 342 million euros, mostly related to U.S. dollar and British pound positions, it said.

“Despite the significant headline beats, we believe that the underlying performance of the business remains in line with our expectations,” Citigroup analysts Andrius Budnikas and James Oram wrote in a note to clients. Guidance for 2016 net income “may now be rather conservative,” they said.

Restructuring Plan

Munich Re, led by Chief Executive Officer Nikolaus von Bomhard, said in June that its annual earnings would include a 1 billion-euro restructuring plan for loss-making Ergo, Germany’s second-biggest primary insurer. As part of the plan, the Dusseldorf-based unit will cut about 13 percent of its workforce and modernize its computer systems. The revamp is expected to reduce the earnings by about 300 million euros this year, Munich Re has said.

The reinsurer booked a net charge of 164 million euros for Ergo’s restructuring in the quarter as the primary insurer reported a net loss of 34 million euros after a profit of 215 million euros a year ago.

The shares rose as much as 2.8 percent, and were 2.6 percent higher at 156.55 euros at 9:35 a.m. in Frankfurt. Munich Re has dropped 15 percent this year, valuing the company at about 25 billion euros. The Bloomberg Europe 500 Insurance Index has lost 19 percent during the same period.

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