Progressive 1Q Profit Soars on Securities Gains

Progressive (NYSE:PGR) revealed on Thursday a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit, lifted primarily by strong gains on investments and higher premiums written.

The auto insurer achieved a net income in the first-quarter of $362.9 million, or 55 cents a share, which is up about 23% year-over-year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were looking for a profit of 43 cents.

The improvement was led by a 3% improvement in net premiums written, which is a gauge widely used by insurance companies to test performance, to $3.77 billion, as well as a 5% gain in net premiums earned to $3.5 billion.

Total pretax net realized gains on securities, which include any impairment losses, shot up a whopping 224% to $99.7 million from $30.8 million in the year-earlier period.

The quarter was assisted by a 62% improvement in security gains during March to $43.8 million, on top of a 2% and 4% respective climb in net premiums written and net premiums earned.