(Reuters) — Axa, Europe’s second-largest insurer, posted a better-than-expected key capital buffer measure in the first quarter, reassuring investors about its ability to generate cash as it navigates a higher interest rate environment.
The group’s Solvency II ratio – a measure of its capital strength under EU risk measurement rules for insurance companies – stood at 217% at the end of March, up 2 percentage points from the end of 2022, driven by strong operating returns.
“Solvency was strong at 217%, better than the consensus estimate of 208%,” Morgan Stanley said in a note.
KBW and Jefferies noted that the company’s new operating capital generation guidance for 2023, between 25 and 30 points for 2023, also beat market expectations.
The French insurer̵7;s first-quarter sales rose 2% from the same period a year earlier to 31.8 billion euros ($35.01 billion), as growth in its property/casualty insurance business offset a fall in revenue from savings products in France and Italy.
Property insurance revenue rose 5%, while life insurance declined, pulled down by a 9% drop in premiums in savings-related products.
The insurer said it expected to deliver more than 7.5 billion euros in underlying profit this year, up from 6.1 billion euros in 2022, under new restated 2022 figures following the implementation of a new set of accounting standards.
Axa confirmed its financial targets for 2023.