SYDNEY, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Australian insurer and bank Suncorp on Wednesday reported a 45.6 percent rise in second-half net profit on a sharp fall in claims, but missed forecasts as the banking division underperformed.
The results come after global insurers were devastated in 2011 by an unprecedented levels of claims arising from storms, floods, tsunami, tornadoes and earthquakes from Australia to the United States, and low bond yields that battered their profits and shares.
Suncorp posted a second-half net profit of A$335 million ($351.8 million) compared with A$230 million reported a year ago and A$378 expected by analysts, based on Reuters calculation.
It announced a dividend of 20 cents and a special dividend of 15 cents, compared with consensus for 20 cents.
Suncorp's full-year general insurance profit of A$493 million exceeded expectations for a profit of A$390 million. But its non-core bank, which houses sour loans to the property sector, lost A$263 million for the year due to write-offs, a bigger loss than analysts had expected.
Last week QBE Insurance reported a below-forecast 13 percent rise in first-half profit, hurt by one-off claims, and cut its full-year insurance profit margin forecast, knocking its shares down as much as 11 percent to two-month lows.
Rival Insurance Australia Group reports earnings on Thursday.
Suncorp shares have risen 5.25 percent so far this year, making it the second-best performer among the three main insurers. The benchmark index has climbed 8 percent. ($1 = 0.9523 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Narayanan Somasundaram; Editing by John Mair)