Suncorp lifts first half profit

Suncorp Group's first half profit has grown by 48 per cent due to lower insurance claims and stronger financial markets in the six months to the end of December.

Suncorp made a net profit of $574 million in the six months to December 31, up from $389 million in the previous corresponding period.

"While this result does reflect more benign weather conditions and improved investment markets, our business is in good shape," chief executive Patrick Snowball said in a statement.

The cost of claims from floods and bushfires since the end of December has taken Suncorp's claims for the year to date to $417 million, below its allowance of $520 million for the full 2012/13 financial year.

The company declared a fully franked interim dividend of 25 cents per share, up from 20 cents at the same time last year.

The company's transformation program was also on track to deliver an additional $200 million in annual savings from the 2015/16 financial year, on top of the targeted $235 million in savings, Mr Snowball said.

Suncorp's general insurance business posted a profit of $564 million in the six months to December, more than three times its $162 million profit in the previous corresponding period.

"The result was driven by operational efficiencies, positive investment markets and fewer natural hazard events," the company said.

Ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, which caused flooding in eastern Australia in January, will cost the company an estimated $200 million to $220 million.

Other natural hazards costs in January were $50 million.

Suncorp does not expect ex-tropical cyclone Oswald to cause a material financial impact on its banking operation.

Suncorp Bank made a profit of $144 million in the six months to December, down 7.7 per cent from the previous corresponding period.

Its life insurance business made a profit of $51 million in first half of the financial year, down 62 per cent from the previous corresponding period, as economic uncertainty impacted the life insurance industry as a whole, Suncorp said.

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