Finance Finance News QBE confirms $281m loss on back of US insurance sales

QBE confirms $281m loss on back of US insurance sales

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Insurer QBE has posted a $281 million full-year loss for 2013, largely due to a poor performance in the United States.

The $US254 million net loss was flagged by the company in December and its shares slumped around 20 per cent at the time.

Excluding one-off write-downs, the insurer posted a cash profit of $US761 million, down from $US1.04 billion last year.

The company suffered from a fall in insurance sales, particularly in the US, with crop insurance a particular drag on earnings.

Local currency premium growth fell 11 per cent in North America to $US5.85 billion, whereas Australian and European operations had a 4 per cent rise in revenue and Asia-Pacific grew at 26 per cent.

QBE chief executive John Neal says most of the company’s businesses outside North America are performing solidly.

“We have taken robust action in North America, and elsewhere where appropriate, to forgo premium to ensure a sustainable improvement in underwriting profit,” he noted in the report.

QBE’s result also was hit by a fall in insurance profit margins.

The company will pay a final dividend of 12 cents (Australian) per share fully franked.

Because the loss was foreshadowed to the market in December, the company’s shares had risen 2.2 per cent by 10:47am (AEDT).