QBE Group has announced the financial results for its half-year ending 30 June 2019, recording a cash profit after tax of US$520 million – up by 35% on the previous half-year period.
Its gross written premium (GWP) rose by 1% to US$7,637 million, and statutory net profit was up 29% to US$463 million.
QBE shares have lifted by 2.5% to $12.38 off the back of the strong results, and the business has continued its strategy of minimising costs and offloading overseas businesses in order to simplify its structure.
The group’s Australia Pacific division – which includes Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific – saw gross written premium fall by 7% to $1,960 from $2,106 million the previous half-year, primarily due to the weakening of the Australian dollar. Nonetheless, Australia Pacific CEO Vivek Bhatia says pricing remains strong and despite “significant catastrophe activity,” and the region recorded a combined operating ratio of 90.5%.
The cost of net catastrophe claims saw a major increase to $116 million compared to $42 million in the prior period, with significant events including the Townsville floods, storms in Queensland and New South Wales and bushfires in Tasmania. The attritional claims ratio improved by 3.5%, with notable improvements achieved in New Zealand.
Bhatia noted that the financial services sector in Australia and New Zealand is still under significant scrutiny following the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. He says QBE is “supportive” of the strong regulatory stance, and will be working to deliver an improved customer experience and address capability gaps in the business.
QBE Group CEO Pat Regan said that the half-year performance reflected “significant improvement in attritional claims experience across all divisions,” along with strong returns on investment.
“With a strong first half result now behind us and our 2019 full year guidance unchanged, through the second half of 2019 we will continue to build on the good progress we have made against our priorities,” Regan said.