COPENHAGEN, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Denmark’s largest insurance company Tryg on Tuesday posted lower-than-expected fourth-quarter premium income, sending its shares down 3 percent.
* Fourth-quarter gross premium income fell to 4.49 billion Danish crown ($739 million), undershooting the 4.58 billion expected in a Reuters poll.
* “The share is traded at a historically high level compared to book value, so there is no room for disappointments,” Sydbank analyst Mikkel Emil Hansen said
* Chief Executive Morten Hubbe stressed that for the first time in more than ten years the company has a positive customer development within both the Private and the Commercial segment in all Nordic countries
* “We’ve for some time fought with the customer development and the top line in Norway. But in the fourth quarter we’ve been growing there,” Hubbe said
* Tryg in February acquired OBOS Forsikring in Norway with a portfolio of about 170 million Norwegian crowns ($21.62 million) and 10,000 insurance customers
* “It’s especially in eastern Norway and it’s partly due to our acquisition of OBOS in which we have doubled our sales,” Hubbe said
* Sydbank’s Jensen said it was crucial that Tryg manages to turn around the development in Norway
* Tryg has invested 25 million Danish crowns in acquiring 50 percent of a new, digital insurance company targeting young people, as almost 20 percent of 21-24 year-olds don’t have home insurance
* The goal is to get 50,000 customer in Denmark in three years and to begin expansion in other Nordic countries
* “We would rather disrupt ourselves than to wait for other to do it,” Hubbe said
* The U.S. market has shown that easy, digital access to insurances can make more young people sign up, Trygg added
* Tryg said that for 2018 it expects growth in gross premium income of 0-2 percent in local currencies, excluding its $1.3 billion acquisition of Alka announced in December.
* The company proposed a quarterly dividend of 1.60 Danish crowns per share, bringing the full-year dividend to 6.40 crowns per share
* In addition it proposed an extraordinary dividend of 13.31 crowns per share ($1 = 7.8619 Norwegian crowns) ($1 = 6.0783 Danish crowns)
Reporting by Teis Jensen, editing by Terje Solsvik