CNA Financial 4Q Profit Widens 23%

Led by improvements in its specialty business segment and a shift in its investment portfolio, CNA Financial (NYSE:CNA) reported a 22.7% increase in fourth-quarter earnings, beating Wall Street expectations.

The Chicago-based company posted net income of $302 million, or $1.09 a share, compared with $246 million, or 81 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding an after-tax loss related to the Loss Portfolio Transfer transaction with National Indemnity, the company earned $1.21 a share, trumping average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of 69 cents.

The property and casualty insurer’s earnings were assisted by an increase in limited partnership income and an investment shift during the year to higher yielding taxable fixed maturity securities, from lower yielding short term and tax-exempt securities.

CNA Financial chief executive, Thomas F. Motamed, said the company is encouraged by the results.

“Our specialty segment continues to deliver superior results in an extremely competitive environment,” he said. “We continue to be optimistic about the long term prospects of our commercial segment, which has delivered five consecutive quarters of rate increases, as well as an improving production trend, risk selection and price differentiation.”

Net written premiums also contributed to the gains, up $15 million in its specialty unit, partially offset by a $23 million decline in its commercial unit.

The company resumed its quarterly cash dividend of 10 cents a share.