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Zurich Financial s first quarter net profits up 3 percent

ZURICH, May 15 – Swiss insurance group Zurich Financial Services (ZFS) Thursday said first quarter net profits rose three percent to 1.4 billion dollars (903.9 million euros).

The world\\\’s ninth largest insurer\\\’s earnings were higher than the 1.2 billion dollars estimated by analysts earlier.

A company statement said business operating profit touched 1.8 billion dollars, a one percent increase.

"In the face of today\\\’s market challenges, I am proud of our ability to stay focused on our strategy and drive such strong results," said chief executive officer James J. Schiro.

"Going forward, I am confident we will continue to execute on our dual focus of profitable growth and operational transformation, turning these challenging times into opportunities for the creation of long-term shareholder value."

A company statement said The Zurich Way, a cost cutting programme, was on track and "as previously announced" would entail "800 million dollars of after-tax benefits for each year until 2010."

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