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CNA's Profit Swing to Black

Source: WSJ

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Posted on 04 May 2010

Loews Corp. and its CNA Financial Corp. insurer swung to the black in the first quarter absent prior-year investment losses, with results beating analysts' estimates.

CNA is 90% owned by Loews, which also owns big stakes in several other businesses, including Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners LP. CNA and other insurers have reported sharply improved results in recent quarters as the economy has risen from its dismal year-earlier levels.

Loews, a conglomerate led by New York's Tisch family, reported a profit of $420 million, or 99 cents a share, compared with a prior-year loss of $647 million, or $1.49 a share. The most-recent quarter included $11 million in investment gains, while the year-earlier quarter included $310 million in losses. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 96 cents.

Revenue, which is mostly made up of revenue from CNA, jumped 23% to $3.71 billion.

Meanwhile, CNA posted a profit of $245 million, or 82 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $195 million, or 84 cents a share. Excluding investment impacts, earnings rose to 74 cents from 44 cents. Analysts had expected 65 cents.

Property and casualty net written premiums fell 6.7% to $1.49 billion. The combined ratio, or percentage of premiums paid in claims, rose to 102% from 98.2%.

Last month, Diamond Offshore reported earnings dropped 17% on surging interest costs as the deepwater driller cut its special cash dividend by 27%.


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