(Corrects combind ratio number in par 3)
ZURICH Feb 21 Reinsurer Swiss Re posted full year 2012 earnings of $4.2 billion on Thursday, ahead of estimates for $3.65 billion on the back of a strong performance in its property and casualty business and solid investment returns.
The company said it would propose hiking it's dividend 17 percent to 3.50 Swiss francs a share -- lower than an average 4.68 francs forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll -- and said it would propose a special dividend of 4 francs per share.
The company reported a combined ratio, a measure of profitability weighing payouts against premiums received, of 80.7 percent for its property and casualty business, well ahead of the 86.3 percent average poll estimate.
(Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto)