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4 key takeaways from the QBE Insurance Group Ltd AGM today

What: QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX: QBE) held its annual general meeting (AGM) on Wednesday which sent the share price up close to 1% in the first hour of trade despite the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) falling by over 1%.

So What: Buying support for the stock today may have been influenced by the Chairman outlining the four priorities for the group in 2016.

Here’s what the Chairman Mr Marty Becker had to say:

  1. QBE will continue its organic growth in core business focus areas. The 2015 result included growth from specialty in North America, UK regional business and emerging markets, but the group sees real opportunity for profitable growth in a number of additional niches in 2016 and beyond
  2. The insurer will continue its journey towards operational excellence, including increased use of the Group Shared Services Centre and increased sharing of best practice
  3. QBE will increasingly focus on technology and how it can enhance QBE’s customer engagement and experience, whilst helping make the group more innovative and efficient
  4. The group will continue to build its talent pool and ensure remuneration is appropriately linked to performance

Now What: While investors may have been taken by the Chairman’s vision for the group, the CEO Mr John Neal’s update on first quarter performance is also likely to have encouraged buyers.

Here’s what the CEO had to say regarding QBE’s recent trading performance:

“I can confirm our performance for the first three months of the year is in line with the targets communicated to the marketplace in February of this year…

While the rating environment remains challenging and competition is as strong as I have seen, renewals to date suggest premium rate reductions are trending broadly in-line with our FY16 expectations.

Against this backdrop, I am pleased to report that gross written premium for the first quarter is up by approximately 3% compared with the corresponding period…

Investment markets were extremely challenging in the first quarter but returns improved in March and further in April. An investment return of 2.4% for FY16 remains our central case.”

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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