Swiss Re reports surprise Q3 loss
by David Masters
Story link: Swiss Re reports surprise Q3 loss
Zurich-based Swiss Re this week posted a surprise third quarter net loss of 304 million Swiss francs ($258 million), sending its share price tumbling.
Shares in the world’s largest reinsurer fell 8% in early morning trading.
The loss equates to 0.93 francs per share. This is compared to a profit of 4.20 francs per share in the third quarter of 2007.
Analysts failed to foresee the loss, with many expecting Swiss Re to report a profit of around 100 million francs.
The company announced a suspension of its share buyback programme following the results to ensure the company retains sufficient capital.
Share buybacks, due to be completed by April 2010, will only be reinstated if financial conditions improve.
Write-downs from the credit crunch hit the reinsurer hard, with 572 million Swiss francs on investments written down in the third quarter.
A mark-to-market loss of 289 million francs on credit default swaps was reported.
Hurricanes Gustav and Ike also contributed significantly to the losses, with claims expected to exceed $350 million.
Chief Executive Jacques Aigrain said the company’s ‘strong capital base’ means it is in a competitive position to benefit from the global downturn on financial markets.
The company has assured investors that its balance sheet is strong, and that its capital adequacy is high.