Feb. 25, 2021, 2:18 a.m. EST

AXA 2020 earnings fall amid coronavirus hit

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By Mauro Orru

AXA SA said Thursday that underlying earnings for 2020 fell mostly due to the impact of coronavirus-related property and casualty claims and higher natural catastrophes.

The French insurance giant said underlying earnings for the year fell to 4.26 billion euros ($5.18 billion) from EUR6.45 billion, while net profit slipped to EUR3.16 billion from EUR3.86 billion.

The company said coronavirus-related property and casualty claims and solidarity measures had an impact of EUR1.5 billion on 2020 underlying earnings.

Revenue for the year fell to EUR96.72 billion from EUR103.53 billion.

Annual premium equivalent, known as APE, rose 1% to EUR5.34 billion. APE measures new business growth by combining the value of payments on new regular premium policies, and 10% of the value of payments made on one-time, single-premium products.

AXA's solvency II ratio--a key measure of financial strength for insurance companies--was 200% at Dec. 31, compared with 198% at the end of 2019.

"After carefully considering the group's balance sheet position, cash flows and overall operational performance as well as the continuing uncertainties related to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the board of directors decided to propose a dividend of EUR1.43 per share," Chief Executive Thomas Buberl said.

AXA had proposed a dividend at the same level the previous year but it was forced to cut it to EUR0.73 a share due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Write to Mauro Orru at mauro.orru@wsj.com

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