Swiss Re posts 61% profit rise in 2012

Switzerland-based insurer Swiss Re said on Thursday that its net profit rose by 61 percent in 2012, hitting $4.2 billion (3.2 billion euros), a performance that outpaced market forecasts.

The figures were driven by a 15-percent increase in premium revenues, which reached $25.4 billion, as well improved profitability in its damage insurance business, Swiss Re said.

Analysts polled by Swiss financial newswire AWP had predicted net profit of $3.5 billion, and premiums of $24.6 billion.

Swiss Re's combined ratio -- a measure of an insurer's effectiveness, setting management costs and claims payouts against premiums -- was 83.1 percent.

The group had been expecting a worse ratio of 93 percent.

Swiss Re maintained its forecast that it will have to pay out around $900 million in claims stemming from damage done by Hurricane Sandy to the east coast of the United States in October.