AXA (ADR) (AXAHY) Caps Strong Year with Impressive Quarterly Results

AXA’s (ADR) (AXAHY) full-year results capped off a record year for the firm. Fueled by a 12% increase in operating earnings from the company’s property and casualty insurance business, which benefited from higher volume and investment income, AXA’s operating earnings for the full year 2013 increased 12% from last year’s level to EUR 4.6 billion. Operating trends continued to improve, with the company’s combined ratio declining 1.1 points to 97.8%, thanks to price increases and favorable claim experiences.

An increase in new business volume reflects strong business trends. For the full year 2013, AXA (EPA:CS) posted a 5% increase in new business sales due to robust sales of unitlinked policies and health insurance products. More importantly, new business margins improved 400 basis points to 35%.

The increase in new business was driven primarily by an improved product mix, as AXA places more emphasis on unit-linked and mutual fund products. The considerable margin improvement demonstrates that AXA is obtaining significantly better pricing for the risks it insures in what is a more demand-driven market.

AXA remains solidly capitalized, with its economic solvency ratio rising 7 points to 206% at the end of the 2013. Operating cash flows increased 12% year over year to EUR 5.2 billion. With ample capital flexibility and a strong capital base, some analysts expect the company to maintain its longstanding 40% dividend payout ratio in 2014.


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