Australia's Suncorp H1 profit falls 4.5 pct
Feb 19 (Reuters) - Suncorp Group Ltd, Australia's largest general insurer by market value, said on Wednesday its half yearly net profit fell 4.5 percent, significantly undershooting expectations as the company was hit with a sizeable increase in general insurance claims.
Profit for the six months to Dec. 31 was A$470 million ($424.53 million), down from A$574 million in the previous first half and well below the A$593.1 million forecast by analysts.
Suncorp said its general insurance claims expense increased 12 percent to A$3.2 billion as a number of major weather events resulted in claims about A$49 million above its allowance.
Also impacting earnings was subdued credit growth in its banking division.
The Brisbane-based company, which has the AAMI and GIO brands, has been exiting its loss-making "non-core bank" because of troubled commercial loans, and simplifying its operations around insurance.
Losses from the non-core businesses dragged down last year's annual profit by 32 percent.
The bank said on Wednesday the impairment expense on banking loans, advances and other receivables decreased by 76.8 percent to A$45 million.
Suncorp shares closed at A$12.60 on Tuesday, roughly in line with a year ago.($1 = 1.1071 Australian dollars) (Reporting By Byron Kaye; editing by David Stamp)
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