AXA reports strong underlying results in 2012

French insurance group AXA reported a 1.0-percent slip in net profits for 2012 on Thursday despite a sharp rise in profitability.

But results for 2011 had been boosted by big exceptional capital gains, which skewed the comparison with the results for 2012.

Net profit last year amounted to 4.15 billion euros ($5.5 billion), short of the figure of 4.6 billion euros broadly expected by analysts in their broker notes.

Excluding the impact of capital gains in 2011 and 2012, net profit rose by 13.0 percent to 4.25 billion euros.

Sales rose by 5.0 percent to 90.1 billion euros.

The margin on new life assurance business, savings and pension plans rose from 25.0 percent to 31.0 percent.

Sales in France rose by 1.0 percent and were steady in northern, central and eastern Europe.

In the Asia-Pacific region, sales rose by 12.0 percent, and notably by 17.0 percent in Japan and 18.0 percent in Hong Kong.

Group finance director Gerald Harlin said: "We are satisfied with this trend (of group results). It is fully in line with our strategy of selective growth. We have managed to achieve both growth and profitability."