Insurer Allianz Says Fourth-Quarter Net Rose 57%

Insurer Allianz on Thursday said fourth-quarter profit rose 57% as fewer claims were made.

Europe's biggest insurer by premium income earned 1.37 billion euros ($1.8 billion) in the three months through December, compared with 872 million euros a year earlier. That beat the average forecast of 1.25 billion euros ($1.64 billion) expected by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

Sales fell 1.5% to 24.8 billion euros ($32.6 billion) from 25.2 billion euros a year earlier.

For the year, the Munich-based company posted a profit of 7.02 billion euros ($9.23 billion), up 60% from 4.38 billion euros in 2005 and above estimates of 6.81 billion euros ($8.95 billion).

Looking ahead, the company said it expects its operating profit to rise by 10% higher than the 10.39 billion euros ($13.66 billion) reported in 2006.

It also said it would pay a dividend of 3.80 euros ($5), up from the 2 euros ($2.63) it paid in 2005.