UPDATE 1-Finland's Sampo posts surprise rise in quarterly profit
* Q2 pretax profit 455 mln euros vs 402 mln in poll
* Lifts P&C insurance outlook for 2013
* Shares rise 2 pct (Adds analyst's comment)
HELSINKI, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Finnish insurance and investment group Sampo reported an unexpected rise in quarterly profit, helped by strong results at its property and casualty insurance business as well as solid investment returns.
Sampo also lifted its profitability forecast for the unit If, the biggest property and casualty insurer in Nordic region, for the second time this year.
Analysts said If appeared to be benefiting from higher prices of its insurance products. Pohjola Market analyst Antti Saari said he was also impressed by the track record of its investments, which appeared to be beating its rivals' returns.
"The investment returns were just amazing, they were on the rise although the market came down in the end of the quarter," he said.
Shares in the company rose 2.2 percent to 34.03 euros in early Helsinki trade.
Sampo's quarterly pretax profit rose to 455 million euros ($606 million) from 444 million euros a year earlier, beating all estimates in the Reuters poll which had an average of 402 million euros.
Sampo said it expects If's combined ratio, a measure of profitability, to be in a range of 88-91 percent for the full-year, stronger than its previous forecast of 89-92.
($1 = 0.7513 euros) (Reporting By Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Ritsuko Ando)