Best insurance stocks today - Zurich Insurance stock performance 2013 ; Zurich Insurance Group AG (ZURN), Switzerland’s biggest insurer, said it is making “good progress” to achieving targets for 2013 and expects to pay an “attractive” dividend.
The company, which is holding an investor day in Zurich, has cut costs by $200 million as it targets expense reductions in “mature markets” of $500 million by the end of next year, the insurer said today in an e-mailed statement.
Chief Executive Officer Martin Senn said he’s confident that Zurich Insurance’s cash flows and capital position will allow an “attractive and sustainable dividend.” The insurer may raise the dividend for 2012 to 17.50 francs ($18.85), according to data compiled by Bloomberg, after leaving the 2011 payout unchanged at an 11-year high of 17 francs a share.
The statement “should provide the market with reassurance on the high dividend paying capacity,” said Stefan Schuermann, a Zurich-based analyst with Vontobel Holding AG who has a hold rating on the stock.
The stock rose 1.8 percent to 234.90 francs as of 9:45 a.m. in Zurich trading, giving the company a market value of 34.8 billion francs. Zurich Insurance has increased 11 percent this year, lagging behind the Bloomberg Europe 500 Insurance Index (BEINSUR)’s 28 percent gain.
While the insurer is targeting a business operating profit after tax return on equity of 16 percent in the long term, Zurich Insurance reiterated today that in the current environment, a goal of 2 percentage points below that is more realistic.
Zurich Insurance reported a 62 percent decline in third- quarter profit earlier this month following a $550 million write-off at its German general insurance business.
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