Higher insurance rates boost Hartford Financial's profit


* Q3 net income $293 mln vs $13 mln year earlier

* Q3 adj earnings $1.03/share vs est of $0.83

* Core earnings from P&C commercial business up 9 pct

Oct 28 (Reuters) - Insurer Hartford Financial ServicesGroup's third-quarter operating profit beat analysts'average estimate as pricing rose 8 percent in its property andcasualty commercial business.

Hartford's core earnings from its property and casualty(P&C) commercial business rose about 9 percent to $176 million.Underwriting gains more than doubled to $30 million.

On an operating basis, the insurer earned $1.03 per share.Analysts on average had expected 83 cents, according to ThomsonReuters I/B/E/S.

Hartford's P&C combined ratio, the percentage of premiumrevenue that insurers pay out as claims, improved to 92.8percent from 96.3 percent last year.

Earned premium from its P&C business, however, fell lessthan 1 percent to $2.49 billion.

Net income rose to $293 million, or 60 cents per share, from$13 million, or 1 cent per share, a year earlier, whenHartford's sale of its Individual Life business led to anafter-tax net loss of $388 million, the company said.

Hartford has been shedding its annuities business,retirement plans business and life insurance operations to focuson the more stable P&C business.

Reuters reported earlier this month that private equityfirms like J.C. Flower & Co and Apollo Global Management LLC are among a handful of companies expected to bid for theinsurer's Japanese annuity business.

Hartford, based in the Connecticut city of the same name, isthe 11th-largest P&C insurer in the country with a market shareof about 2 percent, according to the National Association ofInsurance Commissioners (NAIL), a multi-state insuranceregulatory body.

Shares of Hartford, which has a market value of more than$15 billion, closed at $33.90 on the New York Stock Exchange onMonday. They were up more than 1 percent after the bell.

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