PICC profits from rising premiums, tight controls


PICC Property & Casualty Co yesterday said profit rose 52 percent last year as China's biggest non-life insurer expanded premiums and tightened controls on claims and other costs.

Net income climbed to 8.03 billion yuan (US$1.27 billion), or 0.683 yuan a share, from a restated 5.29 billion yuan, or 0.452 yuan a share, a year earlier, the Beijing-based company said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange. That compares with the 8.8 billion yuan median estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Underwriting profit was 8.02 billion yuan in 2011, almost triple the 2.78 billion yuan from a year earlier, as Chairman Wu Yan kept controls on claims and expenses that had helped the company reverse losses from insurance operations in 2010.

Net premiums earned, mostly from car insurance, gained 8.2 percent to 133.13 billion yuan from 122.99 billion yuan in 2010. Auto sales in the world's biggest vehicle market rose 2.5 percent last year, down from 32 percent a year earlier as stimulus measures ended.

"PICC controlled its claims and costs fairly tightly last year," Li Wenbing, a Beijing-based analyst at BoCom International, said before the earnings were published. "Still, auto-insurance profitability should be trending lower" after a government reform this year allowed some companies to set their own terms and premium rates.

Investment income rose 64.5 percent to 6.53 billion yuan from 3.97 billion yuan a year earlier, according to the statement. The company incurred 2.6 billion yuan of net realized and unrealized losses on investments last year, versus gains of 1.13 billion yuan in 2010.



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