AXA Sees Better Market Conditions, Despite Decrease in 9-Month Sales

By | October 29, 2009

France’s AXA Group, which ranks alongside Allianz as Europe’s two biggest insurers, said its business environment was getting better despite reporting a dip in nine-month sales on Thursday.

Sales fell to €68.094 billion ($100.4 billion). Analysts in a Reuters poll had on average forecast €68.36 billion ($100.83 billion).

Life and savings new business sales on an annual premium equivalent (APE) basis — an industry measure used to iron out market volatility — fell 12.7 percent to €4.51 billion ($6.652 billion), while property and casualty insurance sales rose 2.5 percent.

Although the global economic outlook remained uncertain, AXA said market conditions for its sector were more positive than earlier in the year. “The outlook in global financial markets has improved over the last six months, which provides a more favorable environment for our business,” Chief Executive Henri de Castries said in a statement.

Yet while insurers have benefited from a rebound in global financial markets they have also had to contend with lower sales as cash-strapped consumers delay purchases of new products or opt to let existing insurance policies lapse.

Britain’s biggest insurer Prudential Plc reported lower sales on Wednesday.

AXA’s share price was down 3.9 percent at €17.18 ($25.34) on Wednesday, giving AXA a market capitalization of around €36 billion ($53.1 billion) — roughly the same stock market value as Allianz.

AXA’s stock has risen around 8 percent since the start of 2009, in line with a 9 percent gain in the DJ Stoxx European insurance sector.

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