IAG profits from fewer natural disasters

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) (ASX: IAG) has upgraded its full-year guidance as a result of paying out fewer insurance claim than expected. IAG expects gross written premiums (GWP), a key indicator of company performance, to increase by 11.8% and the insurance margin to be between 16.8% and 17.2%. This compares with previous guidance of 9.5%-11.5% and 12.5%-14.5% respectively.

IAG CEO Mike Wilkins said the results were due to a reduction in natural peril claims from the expected $620 million to $470 million, greater than expected investment income, and the release of reserves held to cover premiums.

IAG is the biggest insurer of homes and cars in Australia, is a general insurer in New Zealand, and has exposure to Asia via partnerships with established insurance businesses in the region. The Australian and New Zealand general insurance business is the group’s largest contributor, accounting for around 94% of GWP in the first fiscal half of 2013, but operates in an extremely competitive and crowded market.

In order to diversify earnings, the company has acquired minority stakes in insurance companies in Vietnam, Indonesia, India, China, Thailand and Malaysia and provides back-office functions as part of the agreement. IAG hopes to generate 10% of GWP from its Asian interests by 2016 and is on the way to achieve this with 6% accountable to Asia in first half 2013.

The company currently pays a dividend of just under 4% fully franked and Mr Wilkins maintained guidance for a payout of between 50% and 70% of net profit.

Foolish takeaway

With a strong dividend and a growing exposure to Asia, IAG may reward investors in the medium term if the recent scarcity of natural disasters continues. IAG isn’t for the feint-hearted though; more risk-averse investors may be better suited purchasing one of IAG’s insurance products instead.

Interested in our #1 dividend-paying stock? Discover The Motley Fool’s favourite income idea for 2013-2014 in our brand-new, FREE research report, including a full investment analysis! Simply click here for your FREE copy of “The Motley Fool’s Top Dividend Stock for 2013-2014.

More reading

Motley Fool contributor Andrew Mudie does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.

Two New Stock Picks Every Month!

Not to alarm you, but you’re about to miss a very important event! Chief Investment Advisor Scott Phillips and his team at Motley Fool Share Advisor are about to reveal their latest official stock recommendation. The premium “buy alert” will be unveiled to members and you can be among the first to act on the tip.

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by – this is your chance to get in early!

Simply enter your email now to find out how you can get instant access.

By clicking this button, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address only to keep you informed about updates to our website and about other products and services we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from Take Stock at anytime. Please refer to our Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information.