Munich Re confident again after 2017 marked by disasters

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Frankfurt am Main (AFP)

German reinsurer Munich Re showed off renewed confidence for the coming years, upping forecasts and announcing a share buyback on Thursday after a 2017 result battered by multiple natural disasters.

The Bavaria-based group, whose main business is helping insurers hedge themselves against possible losses, said it plans to increase net profits to between 2.1 and 2.5 billion euros ($2.6-3.1 billion) this year "subject to major losses being within normal bounds".

A series of hurricanes, a devastating earthquake in Mexico and other natural and man-made catastrophes ground Munich Re's profits down by 85 percent year-on-year in 2017, to just 375 million euros.

This year, the firm "is again poised for growth," chief executive Joachim Wenning said, adding that the 2018 goal was slightly higher than the one the group had set itself last year.

Across the whole business, it estimates it will bring in between 46 and 49 billion euros in gross premiums written -- the equivalent of revenue for an insurance company -- in 2018.

Munich Re added that it plans to buy up to one billion euros' worth of shares back from investors before its April 2019 annual general meeting.

The group's optimism was welcomed by investors, with stock in the firm up 1.57 percent to trade at 184.75 euros by 0910 GMT, outpacing the DAX index of blue-chip German shares.