Swiss Re swung to a larger-than-expected annual loss on Friday, pressured by $3.9 billion in claims and reserves related to the coronavirus pandemic, but declared a dividend as the reinsurer expects a return to profit in 2021.
Swiss Re and its competitors have faced large claims from the pandemic, such as those for cancelled events, as well losses from hurricanes and wildfires in the United States.
“We are confident in the outlook for 2021 with COVID-19 losses mostly behind us,” Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler said, adding the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines provided hope.
Chief Financial Officer John Dacey told journalists that the company expects to return to a net profit in 2021.
The company posted a full-year net loss of $878 million, its first loss since the financial crisis in 2008.
Analysts had expected a loss of $526 million, according to a consensus report published by Swiss Re. In 2019, the reinsurer delivered a net profit of $727 million.
Swiss Re expects additional COVID-19 related claims and reserves in its property and casualty operation of less than $500 million in 2021, down from $1.9 billion in 2020.
It proposed a stable dividend of 5.90 Swiss francs ($6.58)per share for the year.