Fairfax Q3 Profits up 20%

Toronto-based Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd; said its quarterly profit jumped 20 percent, due primarily to improved underwriting profit.

Fairfax said its profit was $562.4 million in the third quarter, or $30.88 per diluted share. In Q3 2008, when the company suffered significant underwriting losses due primarily to damaging hurricanes, Fairfax reported $467.6 million in profit, or $25.27 per diluted share.

Revenue fell to $1.28 billion in the latest period from $1.33 billion last year, while net premiums written fell to $1.06 billion from $1.13 billion, Fairfax said.

“Our third quarter in 2009 was a key milestone in the history of Fairfax,” Chairman and Chief Executive Prem Watsa said in a statement.

The company said its book value had increased to $371.85 per basic share as of Sept. 30, from $315.91 a share on June 30 and $278.28 a share as of Dec. 31 last year.

Stock in the company closed up 1.17 percent at C$376.90 on Thursday.

(figures given are in U.S. dollars)

(Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Rob Wilson)