Job cut costs swell 2012 loss at Air France-KLM

PARIS (AP) — Costs associated with cutting jobs, higher fuel prices and weakness in Europe have combined to swell losses at airline Air France-KLM.

The Paris-based company says Friday it made a net loss of €1.13 billion ($ 1.49 billion) in 2012 from €809 million the year before. However, it says it performed better at the operating level, trimming losses to €300 million from €353 million as it made more revenue from each seat, particularly on North American routes.

The Franco-Dutch airline, which is one year into a three-year turnaround plan, says it is hoping to strengthen its position this year by paying down debt and reducing staff costs further.

Air France-KLM is struggling to compete against low-cost carriers and has said it expects to cut about 5,000 people in its workforce of 49,000.

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Insurer Allianz doubles net profit in 2012

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Insurance company Allianz SE says net profit almost doubled last year as losses on Greek bonds no longer weighed down its results.

The Munich-based company said Thursday its basic insurance business also improved, suffering lower losses on natural catastrophes and enjoying higher premium revenue in Germany, Australia and Latin America.

Net profit rose to €5.49 billion ($ 7.34 billion) from €2.80 billion in 2011, and the company proposed an unchanged dividend of €4.50 per share. Revenue rose 2.7 percent to €106.4 billion.

In 2011, Allianz had to write off losses on Greek bonds which fell sharply in value due to the country’s debt crisis. Greece eventually negotiated a deal with creditors under which it paid them less than they were owed.

Fourth quarter earnings rose to €1.29 billion from €560 million..

CEO Michael Diekmann gave a cautiously upbeat outlook, saying that the eurozone was showing “the first signs of stability” and that “some observers expect the world economy to regain a bit of momentum toward the end of the year.” The 17 European Union countries that use the euro have been struggling economically as governments in several countries cut spending to reduce dangerous levels of government debt.

Diekmann said that interest rates are expected to remain low — a burden for insurance companies, since they need to earn a return on premium revenue. “There are still many uncertainties, primarily around sovereign debt levels and the lack of strong growth in developed markets,” he said in a statement.

He forecast the company would earn €9.2 billion, plus or minus €500 million, this year on an operating basis, which excludes some financial items. That compares to operating earnings of €9.5 billion for last year.

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French group PPR 2012 sales rise 20.8 percent

PARIS (AP) — Strong luxury sales outside Europe raised French retail and luxury group PPR’s 2012 revenue and profits, after the company behind Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent jettisoned two of its weaker brands and pressed hard into emerging markets.

PPR reported that net income rose 6.3 percent to 1.4 billion euros as sales rose 20 percent to 9.7 billion euros.

Sales in Asia, excluding Japan, accounted for a quarter of PPR’s total — a slight increase over 2011.

The company’s bottom line was strengthened considerably by its decision to shed Redcats, the catalogue and online retailer, and media superstore Fnac. PPR reported a net loss of about 276 million euros from discontinued operations.

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Renault earns slump in 2012 despite Volvo sale

PARIS (AP) — French car maker Renault saw its profits crumble last year despite a hefty one-off gain on the sale of its shares in Swedish truck maker AB Volvo.

Renault says its net profit slipped to €1.77 billion ($ 2.39 billion) in 2012, down 15 percent from a year earlier. The 2012 earnings included a nearly €1 billion gain from the sale in December of its remaining stake in AB Volvo.

Renault’s car making operations lost money last year as a steep drop in vehicle sales more than offset gains from cost reductions.

The carmaker said its goals for 2013 were to return to profitability in its automotive division and lift vehicle sales, which plummeted nearly 20 percent last year to 551,334.

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EDF: 5 percent growth in net profit in 2012

PARIS (AP) — French electricity giant EDF said Thursday its net profit rose 5 percent last year behind solid organic growth in Italy and its home market and growing demand for nuclear power in Britain, and despite a tough economic climate.

Electricite de France, one of Europe’s leading energy companies, reported net profit rose to €3.32 billion ($ 4.48 billion), up from €3.15 billion a year earlier in the period. Revenues rose 11.4 percent to €72.73 billion.

EDF said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization posted 4.6 percent organic growth to €16.08 billion — nearly two-thirds of that total in France alone. However, EBIT fell 2.4 percent to €8.25 billion. The EDF Energie unit posted its best nuclear production in seven years in Britain, the company said.

EDF also announced plans to cut about €1 billion in costs in 2013, notably through a 5 percent reduction in external purchases.

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