Insurer Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. (HIG: Quote), Monday posted a loss for the fourth-quarter, hurt mainly by huge catastrophe lossrs related to superstorm Sandy. Looking ahead, the company said it will buy back $500 million of shares and reduce debt by $1 billion.
Connecticut-based Hartford reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $46 million or $0.13 per share, compared to profit of $118 million or $0.23 per share last year.
Hartford posted a loss mainly due to higher catastrophe losses, largely from Sandy, hedging losses on runoff annuity blocks, and increased net realized capital losses due to the sale of the Retirement Plans and Individual Life businesses.
Last September, Hartford agreed to sell its individual life insurance business to Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU), to focus more on property and casualty, group benefits and mutual fund businesses.
Excluding one-time items, core earnings dropped to $0.54 per share from $0.61 per share last year.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected earnings of $0.30 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
Revenues for the quarter grew to $7.74 billion from $5.64 billion last year. Analysts estimated revenues of $6.30 billion for the quarter
For the quarter, Property and Casualty segment earnings plunged 58 percent to $54 million, hurt by the catastrophe losses caused by Sandy. Catastrophe losses for the fourth quarter were $335 million, higher than what the company had forecast.
Group Benefits division's core earnings surged 129 percent to $39 million. Mutual funds core earnings dropped 20 percent to $16 million.
Moving forward, Hartford expects full-year 2013 core earnings between $1.375 billion and $1.475 billion.
Hartford said it expects to reduce debt by about $1 billion, including the repayment of the 2013 and 2014 debt maturities totaling $520 million. The company also authorized a $500 million share repurchase program, expiring end 2014.
HIG closed Monday's trading at $24.70, down 2.02%, on the NYSE. The stock further slipped $0.01 or 0.04% in after-hours trade.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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