QBE shares up as first-half loss short of forecast

Steven DeareAAP
QBE boss Pat Regan.
Camera IconQBE boss Pat Regan. Credit: News Corp Australia

Investors have raised the share price of QBE by 7 per cent after its first-half net loss was not quite as bad as forecast.

The insurer reported a net loss after tax of $US712 million ($993m) due to drought, bushfire and pandemic claims, following a net profit of $US463m in the same period last year.

However, the result was marginally better than the $US750m loss management estimated in July.

The summer bushfires, which ravaged most of Australia, as well as storms along the nation’s east coast, led to catastrophe claims of $US308m.

This was a significant rise on the $180m in claims at the same time last year, and exceeded QBE’s allowance of $US252m.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic prompted the insurer to freeze premium rates for some business types in its Australia-Pacific region.

Still the company managed to increase gross written premium, a key industry measure of success, by 10 per cent to $US8.04 billion.

Renewal premium rate increased averaged 8.7 per cent, an improvement on 4.7 per cent in the same period the prior year.

Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 4¢ per share, franked at 10 per cent.

This is lower than the 2019 interim payout of 25¢ per share, franked at 60 per cent.

QBE shares were trading higher by 7.01 per cent to $10.76 at 12.45pm.

AAP

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