Generali (ARZGY) stock fell Thursday after details of a strategy revamp in its asset management division failed to take the sting out of a poorer than expected set of first-quarter results.
Europe's second-largest insurer reported gross written premiums of €19.23 billion ($20.92 billion) for the three months to March 31, down 2.5% from the same period one year ago, and below the Factset consensus for a top line of €20.19 billion.
Net income came in at €535 million, down 9% on the 2016 year, against analyst forecasts for a bottom line of €592 million. "The decrease is attributable to the lower non-operating investment result, mainly due to the continued policy to reduce realized gains, and to the stronger impact of taxation," the company said.
Generali stock fell more than 2.5%, to change hands at a session low of €14.88, reducing its year-to-date gain to just 5%.
The insurer also announced proposals to overhaul and aggressively expand its asset management unit, with assets-under-management set to rise by more than €50 billion to €500 billion.
Part of the new strategy will see Generali expand the range of services it offers, to include a broader choice of investment products and an insurance liability management offering for customers.
Management set out high hopes for the plan, saying they expect it will double net income at the division to €300 million by 2020, as well as lead to a 16 percentage point reduction in its cost income ratio to 55%.
"We will build an attractive multi-boutique platform bringing together existing and new, highly-specialized investment skills that will benefit from a strong centralized platform," said Tim Ryan, chief investment officer and CEO of the asset management division.
Intesa acquired just more than a 3% stake in Generali in January and after reports of an attempted takeover broke, Generali reciprocated by acquiring 3% of Intesa in turn.
The move by Generali meant that Intesa was effectively blocked from making a further play for the insurer due to Italian laws on cross shareholdings, which meant Intesa will have been forced to bid for a majority stake in the company if it were to want to increase its holding.