AXA delivered another year of strong operating performance with a 6% increase in underlying earnings, to its highest ever reported level, even with a reduced ownership of AXA Equitable Holdings, Inc. and an unusually severe fourth quarter in terms of natural catastrophes.
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Continuing to benefit from our simplified operating model, we achieved a significant increase in gross revenues across all of our geographies. Our preferred segments accelerated significantly, with revenues growing in Protection, P&C Commercial lines and Health by 3%, 5% and 7% respectively.
The strength of our balance sheet combined with the continued successful delivery in the third year of our Ambition 2020 plan, led the Board of Directors to propose a dividend of Euro 1.34 per share, an increase of 6% from last year, which corresponds to a payout ratio of 52%.
2018 was a pivotal year in AXA’s transformation journey, creating the #1 P&C Commercial lines insurer with the acquisition of XL Group and completing the biggest IPO of the sector with the listing of AXA Equitable Holdings, Inc. Our strategic shift towards our preferred segments is instrumental to our vision and ‘raison d’être’: empowering people to live a better life. Our new global brand positioning ‘Know You Can’ is the tangible expression of this purpose.
I would like to sincerely thank our customers for their trust, as well as all our colleagues and partners who have been working together every day to deliver these strong results and impactful transformation initiatives. We are convinced this will create sustainable long-term value for all our stakeholders", said Thomas Buberl, Chief Executive Officer of AXA.