Key figures for the 2012 financial year at a glance:
- Earnings after tax: CHF 342.2 million (2011: CHF 289.9 million; + 18.0 per cent*)
- Business volume: CHF 6,978.5 million (2011: CHF 7,172.1 million; - 1.8 per cent in original currency)
- Solvency I: 229 per cent (2011: 221 per cent*)
- Combined ratio (net): 93.5 per cent (2011: 95.6 per cent*)
- Equity: CHF 4,100 million (2011: CHF 3,678 million*)
- Proposed dividend: CHF 17.00 per share (2011: CHF 16.00 per share)
- Other key figures are listed in the appendix
Helvetia's business development was solid in 2012: the year-end result increased 18.0 per cent to CHF 342.2 million. The business volume of CHF 6,978.5 million remained more or less unchanged year-on-year. The non-life business was strong with an improved combined ratio of 93.5 per cent, while the life business maintained stable margins between current income and average guaranteed interest despite low prevailing interest rates. With earnings at CHF 237.5 million, the Swiss home market was still the Group's strongest income generator, although the foreign units clearly improved earnings year-on-year. Helvetia Germany in particular returned to profitability through highly focused measures and earned a profit of CHF 26.8 million (2011: CHF - 18.1 million).
Good investment performance
Both the investment income of CHF 1,177.8 million (+ 34.1 per cent) and the investment performance of 5.5 per cent (2011: 3.6 per cent) came in well above the previous year's figures. This bears out once again, the Group's proven investment strategy of broad diversification, selective hedging and high-quality investments.
Financial strength and higher dividend
The good investment performance resulted in a further increase in the valuation reserve and consequently in equity. Helvetia's financial position remains solid with CHF 4,100 million in equity and Solvency I at 229 per cent. Thanks to the strong balance sheet and favourable business development, a 6.25 per cent higher dividend of CHF 17.00 per share will be proposed to the Shareholders' Meeting. The intention is to use practically all of the remaining capital contribution reserve of CHF 122.1 million (CHF 14.00 per share), the payout of which is tax-exempt for individuals in Switzerland, to pay the dividend. The Group is maintaining its attractive dividend policy with a payout ratio of 44 per cent.
Successful acquisitions strengthen market position
Helvetia has used its financial strength to expand further in Europe. It supplemented organic growth by making acquisitions in three country markets during the reporting year. The acquisitions will not be fully recognised in profit and loss or growth figures until 2013. Helvetia has positioned itself as a strong no. 2 in the French transport insurance market thanks to the portfolio it acquired from Groupama. It also renewed its sales agreement with Banco di Desio in Italy for another ten years and extended it to non-life business. In addition, Helvetia increased its holding in Chiara Vita from 70 to 100 per cent and purchased a majority holding of 51 per cent in Chiara Assicurazioni. In Switzerland, the acquisition of SEV Versicherungen Genossenschaft strengthened Helvetia's individual life insurance business and provided access to a new customer segment.
Stefan Loacker, CEO of Helvetia Group, is delighted with the 2012 financial year: "Our 2012 year-end result shows that we have effectively managed the challenges of a demanding market environment. The acquisitions support our growth and our confidence that we will profitably serve our existing markets in the long term, too."
- A media conference in German will take place today at 09:00. This will be followed by an analysts' meeting and a conference call in English at 11:30.
- The analysts' meeting can be followed on the internet atwww.helvetia.com/en. A web replay of the analysts' meeting will be available onwww.helvetia.com/enfrom 16:00 today.
- The shareholders' letter, the preprint of the annual report and Powerpoint presentation for the media and analysts' conference can be downloaded fromwww.helvetia.com/en/ir-infokitimmediately.
- The most important key figures are provided in the enclosed fact sheet.