Allstate Corp. on Thursday said its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, as the insurance company handled fewer claims related to major catastrophes because of milder weather in the last three months of the year.
For the period that ended Dec. 31, the insurer said it earned $724 million, or $1.43 per share, compared with $296 million, or 55 cents per share, a year earlier.
The number of outstanding shares dropped more than 6 percent with buybacks, which had the effect of increasing per-share earnings.
Revenue rose 2 percent to $8.23 billion.
Analysts, on average, were expecting net income of 97 cents per share, on revenue of $8.08 million.
Allstate reported $66 million in catastrophe losses, or claims from major disasters like hurricanes — compared with $537 million in 2010's fourth quarter.
The company reported a combined ratio of 90.7 percent, down from 100.8 percent the prior year.
The combined ratio is the sum of an insurance company's loss ratio and expense ratio. A ratio above 100 means that for every premium dollar taken in, more than a dollar went for losses, expenses and commissions. A ratio less than 100 indicates a profit.
During the quarter, Allstate completed its acquisitions of online insurance brokers of Esurance and Answer Financial. That plus some rate hikes helped boost premiums, offsetting reductions in its counts of auto policies in New York and Florida and homeowners insurance in catastrophe-prone markets, said Chairman and CEO Thomas J. Wilson in a statement.
For the full year 2011, Allstate posted net income of $788 million, or $1.51 per share, down 15 percent from $928 million, or $1.71 per share in 2010. The per-share results were boosted by a 4 percent drop in the number of outstanding shares, due to buybacks.
Revenue for the year rose 4 percent to $32.65 billion, from $31.4 billion.
Catastrophe losses for the year totaled $3.82 billion, up 73 percent from $2.21 billion in 2010, after floods, tornadoes and other disasters swept over the country in the first half of the year.
In aftermarket trading, after Allstate reported its results, its shares added $1.20, or 4.1 percent, to $30.51. They'd ended regular trading at $29.31, up 7 percent since the start of the year.