Chubb raises profit forecast as net earned premiums rise

Reuters

* Expects FY earnings $7.90-$8.00/shr vs est of $7.65

* Q3 operating earnings of $2.06/shr vs est of $1.88

* Q3 net earned premiums rise 2 pct to $3.02 bln

* Finnegan to remain CEO until 2016

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Property and casualty insurer Chubb Corp raised its earnings forecast for the full year afterreporting a better-than-expected rise in quarterly profit,underpinned by higher rates and strong underwriting across allits businesses.

Chubb raised its earnings forecast to $7.90-$8.00 per sharefrom $7.30-$7.50. Analysts on average expected the company toearn $7.65, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Chubb also said John Finnegan, who has been at the helmsince 2002, will remain chief executive until 2016 rather than2014, departing from its policy of retiring senior executives atthe age of 65.

Chubb's net profit rose to $541 million, or $2.10 per share,for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $533 million, or$1.98 per share, a year earlier.

On an operating basis, Chubb earned $2.06 per share, wellabove the analysts' average estimates of $1.88 per share.

Net earned premiums rose about 2 percent to $3.02 billion.

Margins of U.S. insurers have benefited from improvedpricing after almost half a decade of softness.

The combined loss and expense ratio improved to 85.7 percentfrom 86.3 percent a year earlier due to lower claims.

The combined ratio is an indicator of the total claims andexpenses incurred over net earned premiums. A ratio over 100percent shows that the company has an underwriting loss.

Catastrophe losses before tax, however, rose to $92 millionin the third quarter from $17 million a year earlier.

According to UBS, U.S. insured catastrophe losses in thequarter were about $2 billion, almost the same as a year earlierand well below the 10-year average of $11 billion.

Low interest rates continued to chip away at Chubb's netinvestment income, which fell about 6 percent to $342 million.

Rival Travelers Co Inc also reportedbetter-than-expected results earlier this week, helped by risingrates and low claims.

Shares of the Warren, New Jersey-based insurer, which has amarket value of about $24 billion, closed at $92.94 on the NewYork Stock Exchange on Thursday.

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