(Adds more detail, CEO quote)
AMSTERDAM, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Dutch insurer NN Group on Thursday reported a 22 percent rise in its fourth-quarter core profit to 345 million euros ($430 million), as it continued to benefit from its recent acquisition of smaller rival Delta Lloyd.
The 2.5 billion euro takeover, completed in May last year, helped new sales rise by a third as the inclusion of Delta Lloyd lifted results at the Dutch life insurance business.
Operational profits from ongoing business fell short of the 370 million euros seen in a Reuters poll of analysts. The company’s net income of 700 million euros, however, beat expectations of 457 million euros as NN reported strong capital gains.
NN is “cautiously optimistic” for 2018, Chief Executive Lard Friese told reporters, as economic growth continues to improve, while the company is “well positioned” to withstand turbulence on the financial markets, he said.
Profit increased at all divisions, but high claims on disability insurance held back improvement at the property, casualty and health business in the Netherlands, where profit fell 52 percent in the whole of 2017. To improve results, NN is looking at increasing premiums, lowering costs and shelving loss-making products, Friese said.
The so-called non-life business, however, is set to take a hit of 75 million euros in the first quarter of 2018, due to the damage caused by the storms that blew over Europe on Jan. 18.
NN Group’s total capital adequacy measure under Europe’s new Solvency II rules came in at 199 percent at the end of December, from 204 percent at the end of September.
$1 = 0.8022 euros Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Adrian Croft