Insurer Generali Beats Expectations With Profit Rise

CEO Mario Greco
Pier Marco Tacca | Getty Images News | Getty Images
CEO Mario Greco

Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali reported first quarter earnings that beat expectations on Friday, results which the group's chief executive called "solid" as restructuring starts to pay off.

The third-largest insurer in Europe reported an increase in net profit to 603 million euros ($786.5 million), up 6.3 percent from a year ago. Analysts polled by the group had expected a net profit of 528 million euros. A Dow Jones poll put the forecast at 550 million euros.

"We're proud. We think the numbers are solid and good, and are going in the right direction," Chief executive Mario Greco told CNBC on Friday.

Greco said the group had recorded its best operating result in the last four years, thanks to an excellent P&C (property & casualty) performance.

The group expects an improvement in its total operating result in 2013, as it continues to strengthen its capital position and to cut expenditures.

"We are making good progress in implementing the planned measures to turn around our business," he said.

Operating profit in the life insurance sector declined 2.6 percent year on year to 797 million in the first quarter. Greco defended the weakness in the life division compared to the rise in P&C.

"Life is troubled by the economic conditions and this is something we cannot do anything about. The margins are picking up a little bit and are staying above 20 percent which is the really important threshold in life."

The life business had suffered as a result of economic crises in southern Europe, Greco said.

"The country which is doing best is Germany and this is no surprise to anyone in Europe. Economies in France, Italy and Spain are really suffering and we see that in our numbers," he said.