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ASR Nederland ups dividend as FY'2017 profit rises YOY

ASR Nederland NV CEO Jos Baeten said the Dutch insurer has exceeded all its medium-term financial targets, as it reported full-year 2017 consolidated profit attributable to shareholders of the parent company of €872 million, up from the restated €625 million earned in 2016.

The operating result increased year over year to €729 million from €622 million. The operating result in the nonlife business rose on a yearly basis to €172 million from €136 million, while the life business contributed €633 million, up from €559 million a year earlier.

The company booked operating expenses of €584 million for 2017, compared to €569 million a year earlier.

Gross premiums written totaled €3.92 billion in 2017, down from €4.33 billion in 2016. Nonlife gross written premiums stood at €2.58 billion in 2017, compared to the year-ago €2.43 billion, while life gross written premiums amounted to €1.45 billion, down from €2.01 billion a year earlier.

Net insurance premiums fell year over year to €3.90 billion from €4.26 billion, while net insurance claims and benefits declined over the same period to €3.84 billion from €4.73 billion.

The nonlife combined ratio stood at 95.1% in 2017, compared to 95.6% in the prior-year period. The combined ratio is a measure of underwriting profitability — a figure above 100% implies an underwriting loss.

Full-year 2017 return on equity was 21.2%, up from 17.0% in 2016.

ASR Nederland proposed a cash dividend of €1.63 per share for 2017, up from €1.27 per share a year earlier. Pending approval at the company's May 31 annual general meeting, the dividend will be payable June 7. The company noted that it will introduce an interim dividend in 2018, set at 40% of the total dividend for the previous year, which amounts to 65 cents per share.

As of Dec. 31, 2017, ASR Nederland's Solvency II ratio based on standard formula stood at 196%, compared to 189% at the end of 2016. Before the proposed dividend, the company's Solvency II ratio was 203% at the end of 2017.

Baeten said the group will begin to present its financial results biannually rather than quarterly, effective 2018, with the next update Aug. 29.