QBE posted a 23% increase in full year profit to $US844 million ($A1.098 billion) and announced a $A1 billion share buyback but sees subdued growth for insurance premiums for the rest of 2017.
Cash profit after tax was $US898 million ($A1.168 billion), up just 1% or 12% on a constant currency basis.
Revenue was up 4% to $US17.267 billion ($A22.48 billion). The insurance profit margin improved to 9.7%, up from 9%.
“We anticipate that the market backdrop will remain challenging in 2017, although indications of modest improvement are now emerging,” says CEO John Neal.
“The rate of decline in global pricing is easing and, while there is variation between markets, we anticipate that pricing in markets other than Australia will be broadly flat in 2017.”
For 2016, gross written premiums were down 2% to $US14.088 billion ($A18.34 billion) but up 1% when adjusting for currency fluctuations.
He says gross written premiums are expected to remain relatively stable during 2017 because of intense competition.
The company declared a final dividend of 33 Australian cents, up 10%, franked at 50%, and announced a three year cumulative on-market share buyback facility of up to $A1 billion, with a current target of not more than $A333 million in any one calendar year