By ULRIKE DAUER
FEBRUARY 2, 2010, 12:06 P.M. ET
Germany's Munich Re AG, one of the largest reinsurers world-wide, said fourth-quarter earnings rose sharply because of lower claims for natural disasters, and said it would increase its dividend for 2009.
"This is another good result that demonstrates Munich Re's earnings strength," Chief Financial Officer Jörg Schneider said Tuesday. "We are realistic in our expectations and remain dependable for investors."
Preliminary net profit including minorities, which Munich Re considers its key earnings figure, was about €780 million ($1.09 billion) in the period, up from about €110 million a year earlier, beating an average analyst forecast of €604 million. Fourth-quarter gross premium income—a measure or revenue—rose 7.2% to €10.4 billion from €9.7 billion.