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W.R. Berkley Reports 1Q Profits, Growth Due to International Segment, Specialty Markets

Posted on 27 Apr 2011

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W. R. Berkley Corporation on Tuesday reported net income for the first quarter of 2011 of $116 million, or 79 cents per share, compared with $119 million, or 74 cents per share, for the first quarter of 2010.

Commenting on the company's performance, William R. Berkley, chairman and chief executive officer, said: "We are pleased with our first quarter results. Prices for the quarter were up in nearly all areas, with an average increase of almost one percent.

"This is the first time in seventeen quarters that we can make such a positive statement. Our growth in the quarter came mainly from our international segment and select specialty markets. Our renewal retention rate is approximately 80%, approaching our historical levels. There are increasing signs of a turn in the cycle, but as always, the change starts gradually.

"Recent events as well as revisions to catastrophe modeling tools are changing the way people view catastrophe exposures.

"We are beginning to see material rate increases not just limited to catastrophe business, but also in a number of other lines of business. The Company has selectively increased the non-casualty component of our business mix, although we remain cognizant of the volatility element in certain lines. We are also particularly pleased with the expansion of our non-US business.

"We continue to maintain an investment portfolio with an overwhelmingly high-quality, fixed income focus but, given the current interest rate environment, we are also searching for appropriate alternatives for new funds. We continue to refine our investment strategies and have a greater focus on total return investment opportunities that include capital gains," Mr. Berkley concluded.