Axa profits up 2.3%

Axa’s first-half profit rose 2.3 per cent, helped by higher life-insurance earnings in the U.S. and France.

In a statement released by France’s largest insurer, profits climbed to 3.08 billion euros ($3.37 billion) from 3.01 billion euros a year earlier. Operating profit rose 12% to 3.1 billion euros, beating an estimate of 2.93 billion euros.

Axa is benefiting from the dollar’s gains, which has increased income in euros from its US unit, which contributes about a fifth of the company’s life-insurance earnings. Economic recovery in Europe and this year’s rally in stock markets are also helping it attract more client investments.

Chief executive officer Henri de Castries, 60, said that Axa is ‘very well placed’ to reach its financial targets.

The shares rose 0.4 per cent to 24.35 euros at 9:45 a.m. in Paris trading, extending gains this year to 27% and valuing the company at 59.5 billion euros.

Profit at the life and savings division, Axa’s largest, was 1.9 billion euros, up from 1.7 billion euros a year earlier, it said. Sales rose 23% in the US and 9 per cent in France.