(Adds CEO comment, detail, share price)
By Carolyn Cohn
LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - Insurer RSA is on course to meet or beat analysts’ forecasts for profits this year, the firm’s chief executive said on Thursday, showing its resilience after an abandoned takeover bid for the company in 2015.
Zurich Insurance ditched a 5.6 billion pound ($8.2 billion) takeover bid in Sept 2015 for the general insurer, which has since stepped up cost-cutting and is focusing on its core UK and Ireland, Canadian and Scandinavian businesses.
“We are at least on track for the analysts’ consensus...or maybe even better than that,” Chief Executive Stephen Hester told a media call, adding that the firm’s first-quarter trading results were strong and ahead of expectations.
The company did not disclose its operating profits for the first quarter.
Analysts are forecasting operating profit for RSA of 548 million pounds this year, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, up five percent from 2015.
RSA, best known in Britain for its More Than brand, posted a 1 percent fall in net written premiums to 1.575 billion pounds ($2.29 billion), following the sale of businesses in Brazil, Colombia and Russia during the first quarter.
The firm also completed the sale of its Chile and Argentina businesses in April.
Only RSA’s Middle East business remained to be sold, Hester said, adding there was no buyer currently.
“We are demonstrating we can make this company...more valuable for whoever owns it,” Hester said.
RSA’s shares were up 2.4 percent at 480 pence at 0750 GMT, with analysts at JP Morgan Cazenove calling the performance update reassuring. The FTSE 100 index gained 0.3 percent.
RSA shares traded at 404p last September after Zurich announced it was abandoning its takeover plan. ($1 = 0.6888 pounds) (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Keith Weir)