-- Axa SA (CS), France’s largest insurer, said first-quarter revenue rose 1.8 percent, helped by higher demand for its protection and property-and-casualty policies.
Total sales climbed to 28.06 billion euros ($36.3 billion) from 27.57 billion euros a year earlier, the Paris-based company said in a statement today. Property-and-casualty premiums rose 4.8 percent to 9.97 billion euros and the insurer lifted prices by 3 percent on average at the business, it said.
First-quarter sales “are completely in line with our plans,” Chief Financial Officer Gerald Harlin said on a call with reporters today. Axa aims for “efficiency everywhere we are operating,” he said.
Axa, led by Chief Executive Officer Henri de Castries, expanded in Asia last year and scaled back in Canada as it aims for 10 percent annual growth in operating earnings a share through 2015. Last June, the French insurer set a 2015 target to reach annual operating profit of 6 billion euros compared with 3.88 billion euros in 2010.
Axa fell 25 cents, or 2.5 percent, to 9.67 euros at 11:11 a.m. in Paris trading, giving it a market value of 22.8 billion euros. CNP Assurances (CNP) SA, France’s second-largest insurer by market value, declined 2.8 percent.
“Maybe there is a bias against French banks today that is also transferring to insurers,” said Benoit Valleaux, a Paris- based insurance analyst at Natixis SA. Still, Axa “keeps reinforcing profitability both at its life and P&C businesses,” he said.
Axa’s life-and-savings annual premium equivalent, a common gauge of insurers’ sales, rose 5.6 percent to 1.67 billion euros in the quarter, helped by its protection-and-health business, the company said.
Axa has “no more risks” on Greek sovereign debt and its “small” Greek unit remains profitable, Harlin said today.
Sales from asset-management operations fell 7 percent to 771 million euros in the first quarter, Axa said. AllianceBernstein Holding LP (AB:US), the New York-based fund-management unit, had 2.7 billion euros of outflows in the first three months of 2012. Axa Investment Managers, based in Paris, also had 2.7 billion euros of net outflows in the period, hurt by a voluntary exit from unprofitable employee-shareholding plans and continued outflows at its U.S.-based business Axa Rosenberg, the company said.
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