* CEO says company on track to meet 2018 targets
* Profit helped by investment results, lower taxes
* Follows difficult 2017 marred by natural disasters (Updates with details from the report)
BERLIN, May 15 (Reuters) - The German insurer Allianz said it was on track to meet its 2018 goals as it posted a forecast-beating 6.8 percent rise in first quarter net profit, lifted by higher investment results and lower tax rates.
Net profit of 1.939 billion euros ($2.31 billion) was better than the 1.787 billion euros forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll and above the 1.816 billion euros earned during the same period last year.
Allianz and the insurance industry is bouncing back from a difficult 2017 that was marked by a spate of natural disasters in North America which resulted in record payouts to customers.
“This good performance puts Allianz on track to meet its 2018 yearly targets,” said Oliver Baete, chief executive officer of Allianz.
Baete said last week operating profit would be similar to the 11.1 billion euros the insurer posted in 2017, or possibly 500 million euros more or less than that.
He also said that Allianz was cautious in its outlook given global economic uncertainties and the strong euro.
The combined ratio, a measure of profitability, improved in the first quarter by 0.8 percentage point to 94.8 percent. Allianz also said that lower restructuring costs helped its bottom line in the quarter.
$1 = 0.8393 euros Reporting by Tom Sims Editing by Edward Taylor