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Vienna Insurance's net result down YOY in Q4'18; new dividend policy adopted

Vienna Insurance Group AG reported fourth-quarter 2018 net result after noncontrolling interests of €61.9 million, down from €82.6 million in the prior year.

Gross premiums written rose year over year to €2.30 billion from €2.23 billion. Net earned premiums climbed to €2.21 billion from €2.18 billion.

The Austrian insurance group's financial result, including at equity consolidated companies, jumped to €241.6 million from €192.2 million.

Expenses for claims and insurance benefits came in at €1.75 billion, versus €1.70 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. The combined ratio was 95.3% versus the year-ago's 94.9%.

For the full year 2018, net result after noncontrolling interests dropped to €268.9 million from €297.6 million a year ago primarily due to one-time effects that caused tax expenses to rise. EPS fell to €2.04 from €2.23.

The solvency ratio stood at 239% as of Dec. 31, 2018, continuing to be at a "very good international level," the company said.

Vienna Insurance also adopted a new dividend policy, defining a payout ratio in the range of 30% to 50% of group profits after taxes and noncontrolling interests. It previously defined a payout ratio of at least 30% of profits after taxes and noncontrolling interests as its dividend policy.

The managing board will propose a dividend of €1.00 per share, up from the previous payout of 90 cents per share.

Looking ahead, the group expects a premium volume of €9.9 billion and profit before taxes in the range of €500 million to €520 million for 2019.

For 2020, Vienna Insurance anticipates profit before taxes of between €530 million and €550 million, higher than its previous forecast. The group also expects premium volume of €10.2 billion and combined ratio of about 95% in 2020.