AAP February 22, 2012 9:09AM
SUNCORP Group has increased its interim dividend after overcoming weak economic conditions to post a 74 per cent increase in first half profit.
The insurance and banking group will pay its shareholders 20 cents per share for the six month period ending on December 31, 2011, up from 15 cents for the same period in the previous year.
The interim dividend will be fully franked.
Suncorp today reported a net profit of $389 million for the six months to December 31, up from $223 million in the previous corresponding period.
The company's result included a $63 million in gains from the sale of property and equipment, while the previous corresponding period included a $106 million loss on disposal of interests in various subsidiaries.
First half revenue of $8.107 billion was up 0.53 per cent from the previous corresponding period.
"Although external challenges mean that our first half profit is still not what we, and our shareholders, know this business is capable of, I'm proud of what Suncorp has achieved over the last six months and am confident the transformation of our group is on track," chief executive Patrick Snowball said in a statement.
Suncorp's general insurance business had $149 million in natural hazard claims above its allowances, contributing to a 44.5 per cent fall in profit, to $162 million, from the previous corresponding period.
A 15.9 per cent rise in the cost of home insurance premiums and a 1.7 per cent increase in motor insurance premium prices contributed to an 8.2 per cent rise, to $3.855 billion, in Suncorp's gross written premium.
Suncorp Bank posted a significant rise in profit, from $3 million in the previous corresponding period to $102 million.
The higher profit came on lower impairment losses and a $34 million pre-tax profit on the sale of a data centre joint venture.
Suncorp's life insurance business' $133 million profit was more than double that of the previous corresponding period.