Nationwide Posts $852M Q3 Loss Due to Disasters, Interest Rates

November 14, 2011

Nationwide Mutual reported a third-quarter loss Friday, as the property insurer said it was hurt by investment losses and continuing high levels of claims from natural disasters.

Privately held Nationwide, one of the largest insurers in the country, said it lost $852 million, compared with a profit of $85 million a year earlier. On an operating basis, it posted a small profit that was down sharply from a year earlier.

Nationwide reported $1.26 billion in realized investment losses in the quarter. Chief Financial Officer Mark Thresher, in an interview, said the losses were related to falling interest rates and hedges in the variable annuity and property and casualty business.

For the first nine months of the year, Nationwide said it has recorded $2.2 billion in weather-related claims, in line with other large property insurers. This year has been one of the worst in industry history, mostly due to tornadoes in April and May and tropical storms in August and September.

Operating income in the company’s financial services business was stronger, though, up 50 percent in the first nine months of the year. Sales of financial products rose 13 percent, led by variable annuities.

Thresher said the fourth quarter had started strongly as well across product lines.

“The trends both in the property and casualty business and the financial services business that we’ve seen through (Sept. 30) continue,” he said, adding that Nationwide was also seeing some of the pricing strength other competitors have noted of late.

(Reporting by Ben Berkowitz, editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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