By Elitsa Gadeva and Juliette Portala
(Reuters) -Insurer Aegon raised its forecasts for full-year operating capital generation and 2021-2023 free cash flow on Thursday after a quarterly earnings beat, lifting its shares more than 8%.
The Dutch group, which has significant operations in the United States, forecast full-year operating capital generation of around 1.4 billion euros ($1.44 billion), from about 1.2 billion previously.
It said cumulative free cash flow over the period 2021 to 2023 was expected to be at least 2.2 billion euros, well above its previous target of 1.4 to 1.6 billion.
“We also want to make sure that we take into account future uncertainty with respect to credit risk,” Aegon finance chief Matt Rider said in a call. “That’s a big deal.”
The guidance upgrade and an increased dividend “offers some relief”, KBC Securities’ analyst Thomas Couvreur wrote in a note as the company raised its interim dividend to 11 cents per common share, leaning on better-than-expected free cash flow.
Its shares were up 8.8% at 0936 GMT, placing them among the top gainers on the pan-European STOXX 600 index.
‘DEEP IN THE RED’
Since taking the top job in May 2020, Chief Executive Lard Friese has sought to end years of underperformance by cutting costs, hedging risks and selling off businesses that are small or have volatile returns.
“Operating result and capital generation are very solid this quarter, but unfortunately completely overshadowed by massive one-offs in investments and other income, pushing the bottom-line deep in the red,” KBC’s Couvreur said.
Aegon swung to a net loss of 348 million euros on a one-time charge related to U.S. reinsurance rate increases, against an average forecast of a 129-million-euro loss.
The insurer, which earlier this year completed the sale of its Hungarian arm and said it planned to sell its 50% stake in its joint venture with Liberbank, is now exploring a deal to divest its capital-intensive U.S. variable annuity portfolio.
($1 = 0.9693 euros)
(Reporting by Juliette Portala and Elitsa Gadeva; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Alexander Smith)