Major insurer preps for possible shock profit announcement

An top insurance carrier has halted trading in preparation for what could be an unexpected profit announcement Monday.



Australian insurance giant QBE Insurance Group Ltd announced it had placed a trading halt in preparation for the release of a Monday announcement following its final analysis of its North American business operations.

In a statement issued to the Australian Securities Exchange Friday, QBE asked for the stoppage “to allow QBE time to finalize its analysis of information and review by the board, predominantly in relation to its North American operations, and the impact on QBE’s forecast financial result for the year ending Dec. 31, 2013.”

The shock statement comes after QBE announced in August that it had suffered a 37% drop in gross written premiums during the first half of 2014—largely due to a poor performance in the US market.

As a result, QBE forecasted a $600mn drop in the value of its written premiums in North America for 2013 and hired the much-lauded David Duclos to take over as chief executive of its North America Operations division.

David Ellis, a market analyst with research house Morningstar, told The Australian he is fearful of the upcoming announcement.

“I am concerned. I wasn’t expecting this at all,” Ellis said. “I thought the remedial action undertaken earlier this year would be sufficient to right the ship and put it on the path to recovery.”

QBE is preparing to hold an open investor conference call and issue a market release with the announcement Monday. The trade halt will be in effect until the start of trade the following day, Dec. 10.

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