Axis Capital braces for $300M loss on Sandy claims

Axis Capital pegs Superstorm Sandy losses at $300 million; increases dividend, stock buybacks

Associated Press

PEMBROKE, Bermuda (AP) -- Insurer Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. estimated that it will lose about $300 million paying claims from Superstorm Sandy.

The projected setback announced Monday wasn't enough to deter Axis Capital from raising its quarterly stock dividend by 4 percent and announcing a new share buyback program.

Axis Capital based its estimated losses on information provided by its policyholders, insurance brokers and claims adjusters surveying the damage left behind by Sandy, which ravaged New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other Eastern states in late October.

Several other insurers are bracing for much larger hits, led by American International Group Inc., which expects to take a $1.3 billion hit from Sandy.

Axis Capital is shaking off its Sandy losses and increasing its quarterly dividend by a penny to 25 cents per share. The dividend will be payable Jan. 15 to stockholders of record as of Dec. 31.

The company, which is based in Pembroke, Bermuda, said it will spend up to $750 million buying back its stock through the end of 2014. The commitment replaces another stock repurchase program set to expire at the end of this year.

Axis Capital's stock gained 21 cents Monday to close at $35.81.

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