QBE shares are rallying after the insurer foreshadows an increase in dividends

Getty-Cameron Spencer

Australia’s largest global insurer, QBE, which has been restructuring and fighting market headwinds, expects to lift its dividends this financial year as it remains on track to increase revenue.

Chairman Marty Becker told the AGM today the company is expecting a significant increase in profits this year.

QBE posted a 292% rise in profit to $US742 million for the full year to December. The reversal from a previous loss of $US254 million was achieved on a 6% fall in revenue to $US18.226 billion.

“Assuming a constant (dividend) payout ratio of around 50%, this would indicate shareholders might reasonably expect an increase in dividends during the current year,” Becker said.

Market analysts forecast an increase in financial year dividends of around 30%. QBE announced a final dividend for 2014 of 22 cents.

CEO John Neal says market conditions remain tough and premium rates are generally low or flat.

The company has achieved $250 million in savings as planned.

And results for the first three months of 2015 are tracking in line with budget, with market conditions broadly in line with expectations.

“Our business is more streamlined, more focused and in far better shape to compete strongly in increasingly competitive conditions,” he says.

QBE shares are up 3.48% to $13.235.

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