Insurer Tawuniya's Q4 net below own forecast

The rain floods in Jeddah caused damage of millions of riyals. (AFP)

Tawuniya, Saudi Arabia's leading insurer posted a fourth-quarter net profit, but missed its own forecast after floods that hit the city of Jeddah in December.

Tawuniya made SR101.5 million (Dh99.4m) in the three months to end-December versus a net loss of SR34.6m a year earlier, it said in a statement on the Saudi bourse website.

The company's Chief Executive Ali Al Subaihin said in October that he expected earnings in the fourth quarter to at least match the SR125.6m it made in the third quarter of 2009.

Ahmad Alshalan, vice-president for sales and marketing, said the company lost SR38m due to damage in the floods that hit Jeddah. "Damage for construction, warehouses, property and projects was SR30m while for vehicles the loss amounted to some 300 vehicles valued at SR8m," he said.

About 125 people were killed in the floods, which also caused important material damage.

"The financial damage is very low for insurance firms. We think that about 6,000-7,000 vehicles have been damaged by the floods. This speaks volumes about the low penetration of insurance in the Saudi Arabia," Alshalan added.

Saudi Arabia is one of the least-insured areas in the world. The government made health insurance mandatory for non-Saudi private sector employees only in 2008.

For 2009, Tawuniya made a net profit of SR296m, or SR2.03 per share, up 341 per cent from 2008. Tawuniya's profitability began to recover in 2009 after the crisis caused it investment losses of SR545m in 2008. Its shares have gained 6.3 per cent in 2010, outperforming both the insurance stocks' index and the Saudi stock exchange's benchmark measure.

 

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