Storebrand reports a group profit of NOK 261 million for Q4 as compared to a profit of NOK 29 million for the same quarter in 2002. Group profit for the year was NOK 894 million as compared to a loss of NOK 1,701 million in 2002.
Storebrand Life Insurance generated sound earnings for its owner and customers in Q4, with continued growth in risk capital and premium income.
The group's banking activities report improving operational performance. Net loan losses and provisions were NOK 19 million in Q4, and the volume of non-performing and loss-exposed loans fell by NOK 483 million. Write-downs of balance sheet items and provisions for costs reduced the quarter's earnings by NOK 69 million.
The improving trend at If has continued, with a combined ratio of 99.0% in Q4.
"2003 was a good year for Storebrand. We are concentrating our activities on long-term savings and life insurance, and we are well positioned for further growth. The group's earnings reflect improving conditions in equity markets as well as strong sales of life-insurance savings products and pension products. The cost saving measures we have implemented are producing the intended results", comments Idar Kreutzer, Group CEO.
Strong growth in premium income
Storebrand Life Insurance reports premium income, excluding transfers, of NOK 9.5 billion for 2003, up by 35% from 2002. Sales to the corporate market showed a satisfactory increase, and the net inflow of premium reserves from transfers of group pension schemes was NOK 1,622 million in 2003 as compared to NOK 637 million in 2002.
The growth seen in premium income also reflects strong sales of endowment policies to the retail market. Premium income of NOK 2.9 billion for this product in 2003 was four times higher than in 2002.
Storebrand Life Insurance produced a satisfactory investment return in 2003. The booked investment return for 2003 was 7.2%, as compared to 2.7% in 2002. The value-adjusted return on current asset investments was 8.8% in 2003, as compared to 1.9% in 2002. Including bonds held to maturity, the value-adjusted return on investments was 11.2% in 2003 as compared to 2.6% in 2002.
Storebrand Helseforsikring, which offers health insurance products to the corporate and retail markets in Norway and Sweden, again reported a strong improvement. Total premium income in Q4 was NOK 23 million, up by 43% from the same period of 2002.
Investment returns ahead of benchmark indices
Storebrand Investments produced a better return for 2003 than the comparable benchmark indices on 79% of the securities funds its manages (before deducting management fees). Of the 9 portfolios managed for Storebrand Life Insurance, 7 produced a better return than benchmark.
The group's banking activities reported an improvement in operational performance. The volume of non-performing and loss-exposed loans fell by NOK 483 million in Q4. Write-downs of balance sheet items and provisions for costs reduced the quarter's earnings by NOK 69 million.
Continuing improvement at If
The improving earnings trend at If has continued. If's combined ratio was 99.0% in Q4 and 100.9% for 2003 as a whole. Storebrand's share in If's results represented a profit of NOK 104 million in Q4 and NOK 324 million for the year as a whole.
On 11 February 2004 Storebrand entered into an agreement to sell its shareholding in If to Sampo Oyj. The sale is expected to produce a capital gain relative to the book value of these shares as per year end 2003 of NOK 1.4 billion before tax.
On the basis of the company's dividend policy and the earnings reported for 2003, the Board of Storebrand ASA will recommend that the Annual General Meeting approve a dividend of NOK 223 million for 2003, equivalent to NOK 0.8 per share.
Oslo, 18 February 2004
Appendix: Board of Directors' Interim report for Q4 2003
For further information contact:
Lars Aa Løddesøl, Executive Vice President, Finance Director
Tel: +47 22 31 56 24 Mobile: +47 93 48 01 51
Egil Thompson, Director of Corporate Communications
Tel: +47 22 48 95 86 Mobile +47 93 48 00 12
Nils Robert Hodnesdal, Investor Relations
Tel: +47 22 31 55 33 Mobile +47 93 40 38 13