Swiss Re has reported "strong underwriting, good investment performance and lower than-expected major natural catastrophe claims" for a "very strong first-quarter" net income of $1.1bn compared to a loss of $665m for Q1 2011.
The group combined ratio was almost halved to 84.9% (2011: 163.7%).
Swiss Re said that its three business units - reinsurance, corporate solutions and Admin Re - each positively contributed to the result.
Michel Liès, group CEO, pictured, said: "We had a good start to the year with a very strong result in the first quarter. This reflects our ability to perform and grow as prices rise and is an excellent asset management result.
"But we also benefited from an absence of major claims from natural catastrophes. All business units contributed to this result.
"We will now seek to reap the benefits of our cycle management, with a focus on profitable growth."
Premiums earned increased by 21.7% to $6.2bn (2011: $5.1bn) as a result of strong renewals. Swiss Re reported a return on investment of 4.0% (2011: 3.9%).
Net income in P&C reinsurance was $660m (2011 loss of $632m), partly due to benign natural catastrophe experience. Net premiums earned increased by 38.2% to $3.1bn (2011: $2.2bn), based on successful January 2012 renewals, which included a substantial contribution from large solvency relief transactions. The combined ratio was 85% (2011: 171%).
L&H reinsurance net income was $209m (2011: $14m).
Swiss Re said that it saw opportunities in P&C and L&H reinsurance "to offer capacity for capital relief, adverse development, structured life and large natural catastrophe covers".
Net income in corporate solutions was $84m (2011: $42m loss). Net premiums earned increased 28.3% to $531m (2011: $414m).
The combined ratio was 84.7% (2011: 123.9%). The result benefited from an absence of claims from large natural catastrophes.
Admin Re reported net income of $174m (2011: $47m). The result was supported by a number of one-off items in the quarter, including realised gains of $61m and a one-time tax benefit.
George Quinn, group CFO, said: "With the new business unit structure in place, we will move the group's capital towards areas where we see the opportunities are the most attractive.
"This will better position us to capture strong growth and deliver the sustained improvements in returns necessary to achieve our five-year targets."
Swiss Re said that April renewal had been strong, particularly in Asia, benefiting from very strong rate increases in natural catastrophe-related business.
Overall, volumes went up by 14% and the fully economic price quality of the renewed portfolio improved by 17 percentage points.
Liès said: "The excellent performance of our businesses in the first three months demonstrates that we continue to make the progress necessary to achieve our financial targets.
"We will manage risks prudently while supporting existing and new clients with our capacity and our expertise.
"We aim to capture the opportunities we see arising from the hardening of the P&C reinsurance market, strong economic growth in the emerging markets and the challenge of regulatory changes such as Solvency II."