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ZURICH, March 3 (Reuters) - Swiss Life boosted its dividend to 11 Swiss francs per share for 2016 after reporting a 5 percent rise in full-year net profit to 926 million Swiss francs ($915 million) on Friday.
The dividend proposal was ahead of the average forecast in a Reuters analyst poll for 10.10 francs and compared to a dividend of 8.50 Swiss francs the year before.
The Zurich-based life insurance firm also confirmed its 2018 financial targets.
Swiss Life has focused on trimming costs and raising asset management and investment incomes to compensate for sluggishness in its core life insurance business.
“Our strong operational performance proves that we are increasing profitability in a demanding environment and implementing our plans under the ‘Swiss Life 2018’ group-wide strategy programme,” Chief Executive Patrick Frost said.
Swiss Life shares were seen opening up 1.5 percent in premarket indications by bank Julius Baer.
Fee and commission income rose 3 percent in local currencies to 1.36 billion francs while it posted a 2016 direct investment yield of 3 percent, in line with guidance from November.
Like other insurers, Swiss Life, whose main markets include Switzerland, France and Germany, has been squeezed by low and even negative interest rates.
In 2016, premiums decreased by 9 percent in local currencies to 17.4 billion francs, a slightly steeper fall than analysts had expected.
The group recorded a decline in premium volumes across all its geographic regions. ($1 = 1.0125 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi; Editing by Alexander Smith)