Gjensidige Q4 profit rises more than expected

OSLO Thu Feb 14, 2013 1:13am EST

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OSLO Feb 14 (Reuters) - Norway's biggest insurer Gjensidige's fourth-quarter earnings rose more than expected as premiums earned rose and claims fell, while the return on financial assets increased.

October to December pretax profit rose to 1.38 billion crowns ($251.8 million) from 814 million in the year-ago period, it said on Thursday, beating all estimates in a Reuters poll of analysts in which the mean forecast was 1.12 billion crowns.

Gjensidige's combined ratio, which measures general insurance costs and claims as a percentage of premiums, was 86.4 percent compared to the average estimate of 89.0 percent, and from 95.7 percent a year ago.

It proposed a dividend of 6.85 crowns per share, above forecasts and up from 4.55 a year ago. ($1 = 5.4806 Norwegian crowns) (Reporting by Victoria Klesty)