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Loews 1Q profit falls 34 percent

NEW YORK (AP) -- The diversified holding company Loews Corp. earned $242 million in the first quarter as its insurance business began to recover from last year's losses due to Superstorm Sandy.

But the company reported Monday that its net income still fell 34 percent, due mainly to lower investment income and a one-time charge on the carrying value of natural gas and oil properties at its HighMount Exploration & Production unit.

Loews, controlled by the Tisch family of New York, said its net income from January through March was 62 cents per share, compared with $367 million, or 92 cents per share, a year earlier.

The decline includes a $92 million after-tax impairment charge at Highmark, compared with a similar $28 million charge a year ago. Excluding the charge, the company said it would have earned $334 million, compared with $395 million in the first quarter a year ago.

Revenue fell slightly to $3.734 billion.

Earnings at insurance subsidiary CNA Financial rose 2.4 percent to $212 million as non-catastrophe underwriting results improved. The improvement was offset by higher catastrophe losses compared with the first quarter of last year.

Boardwalk Pipeline's earnings fell slightly to $33 million, while HighMount earnings fell due largely to the impairment charge. Diamond Offshore earnings fell 6 percent to $82 million due to fewer revenue earning days because of increased rig surveys. Investment income for the company fell from $50 million last year to $5 million this year because of lower performance of the trading portfolio.

Loews also owns a 55 percent interest in Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, and HighMount Exploration & Production and Loews Hotels are wholly-owned subsidiaries.

Loews shares finished at $44.44 on Friday. The shares hit a 52-week high of $45.20 on Thursday.