* Q2 pretax profit 109 mln eur, in line with estimates
* Cost cuts compensate for Austrian weather damage
* Still gives no outlook for 2009
VIENNA, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Vienna Insurance Group (VIGR.VI) reported a 33 percent fall in second-quarter pretax profit on Thursday, in line with expectations, as harsh capital markets and one-off effects hurt earnings.
Pretax profit in the quarter was down by a third on the year to 109 million euros ($154 million), in line with the average analyst forecast in a Reuters poll. Group premiums were stable at 1.9 billion euros, also in line. [ID:nLB180108].
Vienna Insurance, which scrapped its mid-term outlook last November, said it could still not forecast 2009 results.
“Current economic forecasts do not show a sufficiently stable picture,” it said in slides prepared for analysts. “Thus management is not in a position to provide financial targets for 2009 or medium term.”
Vienna Insurance last year overtook rival Allianz (ALVG.DE) to become the biggest insurer in the former Communist part of Europe, where far fewer people have bought insurance policies so far and where insurers hope to post growth for years to come.
However, the drastic economic downturn the region entered this year has raised concerns that clients may curtail or delay spending on insurance and dent growth at Vienna Insurance and peers, which also include Austria’s Uniqa (UNIQ.VI).
Allianz said in an interview on Wednesday it would reach its sales goals in Asia and eastern Europe later than planned due to the financial crisis. [ID:nLJ622793]
Shares in Vienna Insurance have risen 45 percent this year, making it one of the best performers in the DJ Stoxx Insurers index .SXIP as they benefited more than others from an increase in investors risk appetite. ($1=.7091 Euro) (Reporting by Boris Groendahl; Editing by Hans Peters)