The Wüstenrot & Württembergische Group (W&W) posted a successful first half-year in 2019, in which earnings rose faster than expected. Consolidated net profits rose by around 50 per cent to EUR 175.8 million (previous year EUR 116.4 million). This includes high levels of capital investment for the numerous growth initiatives of the financial planning group, particularly in the context of the digital transformation of the W&W Group. The drivers of this earnings performance included an improved underwriting result, as well as an improved IFRS net measurement result for securities and financial instruments as at the reporting date. This cannot be extrapolated to cover the whole year. Previous expectations for the whole of 2019 are also reaffirmed on the basis of the rise in profits in the first half of 2019. New business also grew strongly in both the Home division and the Insurance division.
Jürgen A. Junker, Chairman of the Executive Board of W&W AG: “In the first half of 2019, we maintained and strengthened the momentum of last year. All the key operational figures are on the way up at W&W. Our new digital products and solutions are encountering a growing positive response among our clients. The restructuring of the W&W Group is taking effect, and the results are already clearly discernible. We are also making good progress with digitalisation. At the same time, with a view to the rest of the year, we will do well to remain cautious and keep our feet on the ground. The weakening economy in Germany, and above all the persistent low interest rates in the Eurozone, remain challenges which we still have to face. Nor can we count on a tailwind from the markets. All the successes that we are achieving have been the results of our own efforts. And so it will remain."
With vigorous new business, the construction financing business (including brokering for third parties) achieved 16.0 per cent growth in Germany in the first six months of 2019, up to EUR 3.07 billion (2018: EUR 2.65 billion). Wüstenrot Bausparkasse, the clear number two in Germany, managed to increase gross new business by 2.6 per cent, with home loans savings amounting EUR 6.91 billion, following EUR 6.73 billion in the same period of the previous year. Net new business remained virtually constant at EUR 5.24 billion (previous year: EUR 5.25 billion).
In property/casualty insurance, gross premiums written rose by 5.7 per cent to EUR 1.26 billion, after 1.19 billion in the same period of the previous year. All segments (Motor, Corporate and Private Customers) contributed to growth. The trend in claims was very welcome, particularly because of considerably reduced natural disasters. The combined ratio (gross), i.e. the cost/income ratio, was 80 per cent (first half of 2018: 90.2 per cent). In Life and Health Insurance, Württembergische increased gross premiums written by 8.3 per cent to EUR 1.18 billion, compared with EUR 1.09 billion in the first six months of 2018.
The digital business models of the W&W Group, which are grouped together in the brandpool division, continued to expand their market presence in the first half of the year. For example, the number of customers with the online insurance brand, Adam Riese rose to more than 60,000 by 30 June. Overall W&W brandpool is selectively expanding its eco-system, made up of the finance, home, health, mobility, family and education segments, by means of new holdings.
Outlook for the whole of 2019
On the whole, the positive performance in the first half of 2019 makes the financial planning group very confident that it will post consolidated net profits for the 2019 year as a whole within the long-term target range of EUR 220-250 million. As things stand today, the result is still expected to be at the upper end of that range. At the same time the growing overall economic and industry-specific risks will have to be monitored carefully. The wide-ranging initiatives for the digital transformation of the W&W Group will be systematically continued. In 2018 consolidated net profit amounted to EUR 215 million.
The Wüstenrot & Württembergische Group (W&W)
The Wüstenrot & Württembergische Group was formed in 1999 from the merger of the two long-established companies Wüstenrot and Württembergische. Today, it develops and sells the four building blocks of modern provision: financial security, residential property ownership, risk protection and private wealth management. As a listed group headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, the W&W Group combines the residential, insurance and brandpool divisions as its three pillars of equal importance, thus offering every customer the financial planning solution that suits them best. In doing so, it focuses on omni-channel sales, ranging from its own sales force to cooperation partners and sales agents, broker activities and digital initiatives. At present, around 13,000 people work for the W&W Group both in the office and in the field.