July 31, 2019 / 6:30 AM / a year ago

Poste Italiane confirms 2019 outlook, introduces interim dividend

MILAN, July 31 (Reuters) - Italian post office Poste confirmed its 2019 outlook after reporting a higher-than-expected second-quarter operating profit thanks to the strength of its insurance business and improvements at its loss-making mail and parcel division.

The group - which comprises an insurance and a financial division, the traditional mail & parcel business and a digital payments unit - said it would introduce an interim dividend on 2019 results to be paid in the fourth quarter of this year.

Under its business plan to 2022, the state-controlled company is investing in logistics to boost its parcel delivery business to offset the fall in traditional mail activity.

Under this strategy, Poste has recently clinched deals with e-commerce operators, including an exclusive agreement with online fashion retailer Zalando and the strengthening of a partnership with Amazon.

Total revenue rose 5.3% in April-June to 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion), with turnover at the insurance unit up 27% to 458 million euros.

Sales at the mail & parcel business rose 1.5% to 875 million euros. The digital payments division also contributed to revenue growth, while sales of financial services were flat.

Earnings before interest and tax rose 32.5% to 464 million euros in the period, beating an analyst consensus of 401 million euros provided by the company.

Solvency II ratio at Poste's insurance division, a closely watched measure of financial strength, was 242% at the end of June, up from 214% at the end of March. ($1 = 0.8961 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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