W. R. Berkley Corp. reported that its first quarter operating earnings,”excluding realized investment gains and results from discontinued businesses,” reached $31 million, or 90 cents per share, up from $10 million, or 36 cents per share, a year ago.
By any measure Berkley’s first quarter was a good one. Gross premiums rose to $757,208 from $515,271 in the same period last year, while net pretax income more than quadrupled to $50,618, while the company’s combined ratio fell from 106.8 percent last year to 96.1 percent in the first quarter of 2002
Commenting on the results, chairman and CEO William R. Berkley stated, “We are seeing the results of the actions taken over the prior eighteen months to improve our underwriting standards, raise prices and reduce expenses. We are simultaneously benefiting from the dramatically improving insurance pricing environment.”
“The majority of the increase in first quarter premiums written was the result of price increases,” Berkley continued.”While policy count for the quarter was virtually flat, we are now beginning to see growth in the number of policies written. The pricing environment remains strong and with policy counts beginning to rise, we expect similar year over year growth in premium volume and increasing underwriting profits.”
“Looking ahead, we expect to deliver on our commitment to achieve at least a 15 percent after-tax return. We also remain enthusiastic in seeking new opportunities such as our Lloyd’s quota share and entry into the excess hospital malpractice business,” Berkley concluded.
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