Illinois-based RLI Corp. reported first quarter net earnings of $0.65 per diluted share ($16.9 million), a 16 percent per-share improvement over the $0.56 per diluted share ($14.4 million) reported in the first three months of 2003. Quarterly operating earnings of $0.59 per share ($15.4 million) were a 7 percent per-share improvement from the $0.55 per-share ($14.2 million) result one year ago. The per-share and total dollar postings set first quarter net and operating earnings records.
As of March 31, shareholders’ equity stood at $576.1 million, book value per share was $22.88, and assets reached $2.2 billion.
In the year’s first quarter, RLI earned underwriting profits of $10.8 million on a 91.5 net GAAP combined ratio, compared to a profit of $9.7 million on a 91.2 combined ratio last year. RLI’s property segment led the way with a 68.7 combined ratio. Casualty writings contributed to the quarter’s profitability on a combined ratio of 96.7. The surety segment reported near breakeven results with a 100.3 combined ratio.
Net premiums earned of $125.9 million grew 15 percent in the year’s first three months, pushing consolidated revenue to $140.6 million, an increase of 17 percent. Gross premiums written rose to $182.9 million during the quarter, a 5 percent increase from the same period one year ago. Segment results include an increase in casualty gross premiums of 7 percent, property writings rose by 3 percent, and surety business was down 5 percent.
“Market conditions favorable to specialty insurers continued in the first quarter of 2004,” said RLI President & CEO Jonathan Michael. “While our underwriters again reported a softening trend in property rates, their selectivity created satisfactory profits. The casualty segment showed strong results, continuing a trend from last year. We are encouraged by the surety segment’s numbers, which reflect our confidence that we are moving beyond previously reported problems.”
Comprehensive earnings, which include after-tax unrealized gains/losses from the investment portfolio, posted a $0.94 per-share gain for the quarter ($24.5 million). This result was a 169 percent per-share improvement over the $0.35 per-share ($9.0 million) level from the same period last year.
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