(Adds detail, CEO comment from statement)
ZURICH, July 30 (Reuters) - Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurer, said on Thursday that second-quarter net profit rose 2 percent on fewer natural disasters in the period and a healthy return on its investment portfolio, but missed analyst expectations.
The Zurich-based firm said it is on track to meet its targets, which include hiking earnings per share by 10 percent annually, after paying special dividends.
Swiss Re and other reinsurers help insurance companies cover the cost of major damage claims, such as for hurricanes and earthquakes, in exchange for part of the premiums their insurance company clients pay.
"Despite the ongoing uncertainty about overall economic growth in many areas of the world - as shown by continued historically low interest rates - we were able to support our underwriting expertise with a strong investment result," Swiss Re Chief Executive Michel Lies said in a statement.
Swiss Re also said it posted a 31 percent rise in its July renewals season, which focuses on the Americas, Australia and New Zealand.
Net profit for the three months rose to $820 million, from $802 million. This missed analysts' estimates, which averaged $835 million in a Reuters poll.
Pension funds and other specialised investors have been pouring money into the reinsurance business, competing with traditional reinsurers such as world No.1 Munich Re and Swiss Re, and putting pressure on prices.
The German reinsurer reports the quarter on Aug. 6. (Reporting by Katharina Bart, additional reporting by Paul Arnold; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Gopakumar Warrier)