AXA H1 net income rises 25 pct, lifts cost-cut target

PARIS Fri Aug 1, 2014 1:07am EDT

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PARIS Aug 1 (Reuters) - AXA, Europe's second-biggest insurer, reported a 25 percent increase in first-half net profit on a comparable basis, boosted by strong earnings growth and a favourable impact of lower interest rates on the value of its financial assets.

Net income reached 3.01 billion euros ($4.03 billion) in the first half, also benefitting from lower restructuring costs, AXA said on Friday.

The company said in a statement it was raising its cost savings target to 1.9 billion euros by 2015 from 1.7 billion previously.

Total revenue rose 2.0 percent on a comparable basis to 49.71 billion euros, and underlying earnings rose 8.0 percent over the period to 2.78 billion.

Earnings benefitted from particularly strong growth in AXA's life and savings business, but were negatively impacted by higher natural catastrophe charges in its property and casualty line stemming from June hailstorms in Europe, finance head Gerald Harlin told journalists on a conference call.

In terms of its balance sheet, gearing was stable at 24 percent, in line with the group's target of 23-25 percent. (1 US dollar = 0.7471 euro) (Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by James Regan)

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