QBE 0.08% $12.05 qbe insurance group limited

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    SYDNEY, June 18 (Reuters) - QBE Insurance Ltd shares
    rebounded off an eight month low on Tuesday after the company
    said it was on track to achieve its projected insurance profit
    calendar 2002.
    Australia's largest non-life insurer also blamed recent
    weakness in its share price on "uninformed comments in the
    QBE, whose exposure to the September 11 attacks ended 20
    years of profit growth in 2001, said claims for the first
    five-and-a-half months of the year were below expectations and
    overall premium rate rises around the world higher than the 20
    percent forecast.
    "While volatile bond and equity markets may affect the
    movement in unrealised gains at balance date, this is not
    to affect insurance profit performance," QBE chief executive
    Frank O'Halloran said in a statement.
    QBE said it was on track for its 2002 annual plan of a
    projected insurance profit of 6.0-6.5 percent of net earned
    premium of around A$5.5 billion.
    The stronger Australian dollar was not likely to
    a negative impact on results, the insurer said.
    Shares in QBE, which have slipped from around A$7.20 over
    past seven sessions, bounced off an eight month low at A$6.05
    gain 23 cents, or 3.5 percent, to A$6.78 in a firmer overall
    "They just reiterated what they said before. There had
    suggestions they'd walked away from their targets due to
    difficult environments, namely low interest rates," said an
    insurance analyst who declined to be named.
    "They're just basically saying that's rubbish, there's no
    change and everything's on track," he added.
    QBE's A$252 million exposure to the September 11 attacks
    dragged it into the red last year, with the group posting a
    million loss after 20 years of profit growth.
    Analysts polled by Multex Global Estimates tip a A$356.5
    million net profit for QBE in 2002, with forecasts ranging
    A$300 million to A$391.8 million.
    "With terrorism, weak investment markets, all of a sudden
    get this bit of fear, because we've had a couple of insurance
    companies collapse in Australia, it feeds on itself," said the
    ((Sydney Newsroom 61-2 9373-1800, fax 61 2 9262-4727,
    [email protected]))

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