FLYOVER: A Qantas Airways and an Emirates Airlines Airbus A380 fly in formation during a flyover at an altitude of around 450m above Sydney on Sunday. Picture: REUTERS
FLYOVER: A Qantas Airways and an Emirates Airlines Airbus A380 fly in formation during a flyover at an altitude of around 450m above Sydney. Picture: REUTERS

Swiss Re reinsurance head to take helm

ZURICH — Swiss Re’s head of reinsurance, Christian Mumenthaler, will take the helm as CEO Michel Lies retires, the company said as it posted a hefty jump in annual net income and a new share buyback of up to $1bn.

Mr Lies has led the reinsurer since 2012 and has been with the company for more than 35 years.

Net profit for 2015 climbed 31% to $4.6bn, matching analysts’ forecasts. It posted a $938m profit for the fourth quarter.

Swiss Re said the buyback of as much as Sf1bn ($1bn) would be carried out before its 2017 annual shareholder meeting if excess capital is still available, there is no major loss event and the group does not find another use for the capital.

It lifted its regular annual dividend to Sf4.60 from Sf4.25, although that was below the Sf4.75 analysts had forecast.

Reuters

Qantas to buy back shares as half-year profit triples

SYDNEY — Australian carrier Qantas on Tuesday said first-half net profit soared 234% to A$688m (US$497m) on belt-tightening and lower oil prices, and it announced a A$500m stock buyback.

The ruthless cost-cutting drive has led to thousands of jobs being axed and aircraft deliveries deferred in recent years to stem mounting losses.

Underlying pretax profit in the six months to December 31 — the airline’s preferred measure of financial performance — was A$921m, at the upper end of analyst expectations, while revenue rose 5%. The result was boosted by A$448m in savings through the airline hedging on lower fuel prices.

AFP

Defence firm Thales raises dividend, posts record orders

PARIS — France’s Thales, Europe’s largest defence electronics firm, raised its dividend after posting higher than expected core profit and record orders in 2015, kicking into a higher gear after years of lacklustre growth.

Its order intake jumped 31% to €18.88bn, lifted by radar contracts for recent French Rafale fighter sales to Egypt and Qatar, as well as a major London Underground signalling contract. It said it would propose a dividend of €1.36, up 21%. Full-year operating profit rose 23% to €1.216bn, while revenue grew 8%, or 4.5% on an organic basis.

For 2016, Thales predicted operating income of €1.3bn-€1.33bn and mid-single-digit percentage organic sales growth.

Reuters

Fitbit profit forecast less robust than expected

BENGALURU — Fitbit’s current-quarter profit forecast missed Wall Street estimates by a wide margin, as the wearable fitness device maker aggressively invests in new products, sending its shares down more than 16% in after-hours trading on Monday.

The lacklustre guidance overshadowed the company’s comfortable quarterly revenue and profit beat in the holiday shopping season.

Fitbit said on an adjusted per-share basis it expected to break even or post a profit of up to 2c for the quarter ending March, lagging analysts’ average expectation for 23c, according to Thomson Reuters IBES.

It sold 8.2-million wearable devices in the fourth quarter ended December 31, a 55% jump from a year earlier and above the 7.5-million expected by analysts, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Net income attributable to common stockholders rose to $64.2m, or 26c per share, in the quarter, from $11.9m, or 19c per share, a year earlier. Revenue nearly doubled to $711.6m.

Fitbit’s revenue forecast of $2.4bn-$2.5bn and adjusted profit of $1.08-$1.20 per share for 2016 was largely in line with expectations.

Reuters

United orders 25 more Boeing 737s worth $2bn

PARIS — Boeing has won an order for 25 current-generation Boeing 737 aircraft from United Continental, beating rivals including Canada’s Bombardier for the second time in a month, two industry sources said on Monday.

The deal, said to involve the 126-seat 737-700 model, would be worth just over $2bn at list prices.

Boeing and United both declined to comment.

The deal with Boeing, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes weeks after United agreed to buy 40 Boeing 737-700 jets listed at $3.2bn.

Reuters