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By Bart H. Meijer
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - NN Group, the largest insurer in the Netherlands, on Thursday reported a 21% jump in operating profit for the first half of 2021, pushing up its shares almost 4% as the coronavirus crisis lifts insurance sales across the globe.
NN said operating profit climbed to 1.12 billion euros ($1.31 billion), while its net profit more than doubled from a year before to 1.41 billion euros.
"It's very clear that what's happening in the world, whether it's COVID or the extreme weather we're seeing, has increased the awareness of people of how vulnerable we are," Chief Executive David Knibbe told reporters.
"Research shows about two thirds of retail customers are more concerned now about their health or the loss of income. This is a longer term trend that we expect to continue."
Rising demand for insurance drove up the value of new business by 98% to 242 million euros, NN said, while assets under management increased 11% to 27.4 billion euros.
NN shares traded up 3.6% at 0740 GMT, making them one of the strongest gainers in Amsterdam's blue chip AEX-index, trailing fellow insurer Aegon whose second-quarter results also beat expectations on Thursday.
"NN Group posted very strong results with an operating result beat in every segment", KBC Securities analysts wrote in a note.
Among other key metric's, NN's solvency under Europe's Solvency II regime remained roughly stable at 209%, allowing it to announce an interim dividend of 0.93 euros per share.
Knibbe said he expected the massive floods that ravaged parts of Belgium and the Netherlands earlier this month would cost NN around 70 million euros in the second half of 2021.
($1 = 0.8518 euros)
(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Kim Coghill, Elaine Hardcastle)