Travelers Halves 4Q Profit on Sandy Losses But Tops Expectations

Travelers (NYSE:TRV) revealed stronger-than-expected fourth-quarter results for the top and bottom lines on Tuesday despite a $1.0 billion pre-tax charge related to super storm Sandy catastrophe losses.

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The New York-based property and casualty insurer reported net income of $304 million, or 78 cents a share, down 51% compared with $618 million, or $1.51, in the year-earlier period.

However, excluding one-time items, Travelers said it earned 72 cents, widely topping average analyst estimates of 14 cents in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 increased by 2% to $6.48 billion from $6.37 billion a year ago, widely trumping the Street’s view of $5.34 billion. The results were led by improved underwriting margins, partially mitigated by an increase in catastrophe losses.

“We are pleased with our fourth quarter results, as well as our full year results, particularly in light of Storm Sandy,” Travelers CEO Jay Fishman said in a statement.

He noted that 2012 was yet another year where unusual severe weather affected Travelers' customers and reiterated that the company remains committed to helping them restore their lives.

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Travelers posted catastrophe losses of $1.05 billion, or $689 million after tax. That compares with $102 million pre-tax in the prior-year quarter.

Shares of the insurer climbed nearly 4% to a 52-week high of $80 Tuesday morning.

The company’s board has declared a quarterly dividend of 46 cents a share, payable on March 29 to shareholders of record on March 8.