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Progressive 1Q net income rises 20 pct

MAYFIELD VILLAGE, Ohio (AP) -- Progressive Corp. said Wednesday its first-quarter net income rose 20 percent, helped by increases in both net premiums written and earned.

The Mayfield Village, Ohio-based insurance company said it earned $308.6 million, or 51 cents per share, up from $257.6 million, or 42 cents per share, in the same quarter the year before. Analysts polled by FactSet expected profit of 49 cents per share.

Revenue rose 8 percent, to $4.44 billion from $4.13 billion. Net premiums written, a measure of the value of all new and renewal policies sold during the period, rose 7 percent to 4.45 billion. Net premiums earned, the portion of the premiums it earns when policies expire, increased 8 percent to $4.18 billion.

Progressive posted a pretax gain on securities of $80.6 million, up 4 percent from a gain of $77.5 million in the year-ago period.

The company's combined ratio narrowed by 1.7 percentage points to 92.4 percent. A ratio above 100 means that for every premium dollar taken in, more than a dollar went to cover claims and expenses. A figure below 100 means the company made a profit on its insurance operations.

Progressive shares fell 44 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $25.32 in afternoon trading.