FRANKFURT — Allianz, Europe’s biggest insurer, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter net income more than doubled after profit from property and casualty insurance rose unexpectedly, and the write-downs of a year earlier were not repeated.

Chief financial officer Dieter Wemmer said he was encouraged by healthy growth in premiums, especially by recoveries in key European markets.

Net income advanced to €1.22bn from €492m in the fourth quarter of 2011, the Munich-based company said. Operating profit in property and casualty insurance rose to €1.26bn in the fourth quarter from €1.09bn a year earlier. Gross written premiums increased 4.7% in 2012 as a whole. The company will propose paying a dividend of €4.50 per share from last year’s profit, CEO Michael Diekmann said.

Allianz expects to have an operating profit of €9.2bn this year, plus or minus €500m. Operating profit was €9.5bn last year, which matched a target for more than €9bn.

"I am confident that again in 2013 Allianz will maintain its profitability," Mr Diekmann said.

The firm had operating profit of €2.28bn in the fourth quarter alone compared with €2bn in the same period a year previously, it said.

Allianz lost 1% to €103.25 in Frankfurt on Thursday.

Bloomberg