AXA earnings quadruple on gains from asset sales

AXA, Europe’s second-biggest insurer, said yesterday that first-half net income quadrupled, beating forecasts, helped by €1.44bn in one-off gains related to asset sales.

AXA said its net income for the six-month period rose to €3.999bn from €944m in a year-ago period that was depressed by a €1.478bn exceptional loss.

The net result, boosted by gains from the sale of AXA’s stake in Chinese insurer Taikang Life and of its Australia and New Zealand operations, beat the average estimate of €3.588bn in a poll of nine analysts.

Underlying profit rose 11 per cent to €2.22bn, bolstered by improved property and casualty results, compared with the poll average of €2.187bn.

AXA said it was taking a €92m impairment for losses stemming from the Greek sovereign debt bailout.

The insurer did not provide any forecasts for the rest of the year, but AXA chief executive Henri de Castries said that the results showed it was “off to a good start in meeting our objectives”.

In May, the insurer said it was confident it would raise profits this year in spite of a drop in first-quarter sales.

In June, AXA said it was targeting underlying growth of 10 per cent in earnings per share by 2015 on a compound annual growth rate basis.