22.05.2020

UNIQA: COVID-19 results in negative quarterly result for the first time since the euro crisis

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  • Premiums written rise by 3.2 per cent
  • Combined ratio increases to 97.8 per cent
  • Investment income falls by 11.7 per cent
  • Earnings before taxes down € 13.9 million
  • Outlook: possibility of negative result in 2020

Press release (7055 Characters)Plain text

Picking up by 3.2 per cent, premium income at UNIQA Insurance Group AG (UNIQA) was significantly better than in the first quarter of the previous year. Premiums written enjoyed growth in health insurance (up 5.1 per cent), in property and casualty insurance (up 3.7 per cent) and in life insurance (up 0.3 per cent), as the effects of COVID-19 on sales were still barely noticeable in the first three months. This caused premiums to rise considerably more than insurance benefits (up 2.2 per cent), although these already included initial provisions of € 37.5 million in connection with COVID-19 and other expenses for the storm front “Sabine” and an earthquake in Albania. The combined ratio in property and casualty insurance deteriorated from 96.3 per cent in the first quarter of the previous year to 97.8 per cent.

The decline in investment income and higher costs also contributed to the negative result in the first quarter of 2020. Investment income witnessed a sharp slump. The 11.7 per cent decline to € 89.7 million caused by COVID-19-related capital market turbulence would have been greater if it had not been cushioned by exchange rate effects through other comprehensive income of € 28 million in international business. Current operating costs rose by € 16 million, with most of these comprising non-recurring, advance expenses for the upcoming integration of the AXA companies in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The COVID-19-related effects described forced UNIQA to report a negative quarterly result for the first time since the 2011 euro crisis.

Accordingly, UNIQA is anticipating the possibility of a negative result before taxes for 2020 as a whole. The dividend for the 2020 financial year will not be paid.

Key Group figures January to March 2020 in detail

Total premiums written by the UNIQA Group (including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance) rose by 3.2 per cent to € 1,578.3 million in the first quarter of 2020 (January to March 2019: € 1,530.0 million). While recurring premiums grew by 3.1 per cent to € 1,551.7 million (January to March 2019: € 1,504.7 million), single premiums in life insurance rose by 5.3 per cent to € 26.6 million (January to March 2019: € 25.3 million). Retained premiums earned (in accordance with IFRS) increased by 2.1 per cent to € 1,256.6 million (January to March 2019: € 1,231.1 million).

Premiums written in property and casualty insurance rose by 3.7 per cent to € 913.3 million in the first three months of 2020 (January to March 2019: € 880.8 million). Premiums written in health insurance rose by 5.1 per cent to € 303.6 million in the reporting period (January to March 2019: € 288.8 million). In life insurance, premiums written including the savings portion of unit- and index-linked life insurance remained virtually stable overall in the first three months of 2020 at € 361.4 million (January to March 2019: € 360.4 million).

The total amount of retained insurance benefits of the UNIQA Group rose by 2.2 per cent to € 950.6 million in the first quarter of 2020 (January to March 2019: € 929.9 million).

Total operating expenses rose by 9.3 per cent to € 379.0 million in the first three months of 2020 (January to March 2019: € 346.6 million). Acquisition expenses less reinsurance commissions received posted an increase of 5.8 per cent to € 239.3 million (January to March 2019: € 226.3 million). Other operating expenses (administration costs) climbed by 16.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 to € 139.7 million (January to March 2019: € 120.4 million) as a result of higher investments and additional resources and staff requirements for the strategic projects. This includes costs in connection with the innovation and investment programme amounting to roughly € 12 million (January to March 2019: roughly € 14 million).

The total cost ratio – the ratio of total operating expenses to premiums earned including the net savings portion of the premiums from unit- and index-linked life insurance – less reinsurance commissions received increased to 28.4 per cent (January to March 2019: 26.8 per cent). The combined ratio after reinsurance increased to 97.8 per cent in connection with the higher costs (January – March 2019: 96.3 per cent).

Investment income fell by 11.7 per cent to € 89.7 million in the first quarter of 2020 (January to March 2019: € 101.6 million). Accounting for the 14.3 per cent interest in the construction group STRABAG SE using the equity method resulted in a negative contribution to earnings of € – 18.7 million in the first quarter of 2020 (January to March 2019: € – 18.7 million).

The investment portfolio of the UNIQA Group (including investment property, financial assets accounted for using the equity method and other investments) decreased as at 31 March 2020 compared with the end of the previous year to € 19,859.2 million (31 December 2019: € 20,624.8 million).

The UNIQA Group’s technical result declined to € – 0.9 million in the first quarter of 2020, primarily due to a rise in costs (January to March 2019: € 31.2 million). Operating earnings also fell to € 1.6 million (January to March 2019: € 56.1 million). The UNIQA Group’s earnings before taxes amounted to € – 13.9 million (January to March 2019: € 42.3 million).

Consolidated net profit (net profit for the period attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG) declined to € – 13.2 million (January to March 2019: € 32.2 million). Earnings per share amounted to € – 0.04 (January to March 2019: € 0.10).

As at 31 March 2020, equity attributable to the shareholders of UNIQA Insurance Group AG decreased to € 2,993.1 million (31 December 2019: € 3,401.0 million).

The average number of employees at the UNIQA Group rose to 13,052 in the first three months of 2020 (January to March 2019: 12,851).

Outlook

In light of the high levels of uncertainty regarding the macroeconomic and financial impact of COVID-19, which extends to the rest of the year, UNIQA cannot maintain its outlook for the 2020 financial year, which anticipated profit on ordinary activities in 2020 at a similar level to that of 2019. UNIQA thus expects the possibility of negative earnings before taxes for 2020 as a whole.

Dates

As announced, the Annual General Meeting will be held in Vienna on 25 May 2020. Given the current legal restrictions on assemblies, UNIQA will hold the Annual General Meeting virtually in accordance with the provisions of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Justice’s COVID-19 regulation under company law dated 8 April 2020.

Forward-looking statements

This press release contains statements concerning UNIQA’s future development. These statements present estimates that were reached on the basis of all of the information available to us at the present time. If the assumptions on which they are based do not occur, the actual results may deviate from the results currently expected. As a result, no liability is accepted for this information.

UNIQA Group
The UNIQA Group is one of the leading insurance groups in its two core markets of Austria and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Around 19,200 employees and exclusive sales partners serve 10.5 million customers in 16 countries. In Austria, UNIQA is the second largest insurance group with a market share of around 21.4 per cent. In the CEE growth region, UNIQA is at home in 15 markets: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine and Hungary.

Contact

Gregor Markus Bitschnau, Konzern-Pressesprecher
 
Untere Donaustraße 21
1029 Wien
Tel: +43 1 211 75-3440
Mobil: +43 664 889 155 64
Fax: +43 1 211 75-3619

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