German insurance and banking giant Allianz said Wednesday that positive earnings development continued in the first quarter with bottom-line net profit rising by
around 30 percent to "more than 1.1 billion euros ($1.4 billion)." The figure was higher than analysts had expected -- consensus forecasts had put net profit at around 950 million euros in the period from January to March. "The positive earnings trend we observed in 2004 continued in the first quarter of 2005," chairman Michael Diekmann told shareholders at the group's annual meeting here. "This substantial increase in net profit was a result of
improvements in the operating business." The group's so-called combined ratio, which measures claim payouts against premium income, improved, falling by three percentage points to around 92 percent. Analysts had been forecasting a decline to 94.6-95.3 percent. Looking ahead, Diekmann said Allianz was penciling in a "significant" increase in group net profit for whole year. In 2004, Allianz booked net profit of 2.2 billion euros.