By Robb M. Stewart
Intact Financial Corp.'s shares stumbled Wednesday after the company's fourth-quarter earnings missed expectations.
In morning trading Wednesday, shares were 3.4% lower, at 191.03 Canadian dollars (US$142.36), narrowing the rise over the last year to 7.3%.
The Canadian property and casualty insurer late Tuesday reported net income of C$419 million, or C$2.26 a share. That was down from C$701 million, or C$3.85 a share, a year earlier and below the C$2.45 a share penciled in by analysts polled by FactSet.
Direct premiums written were up 3.9% from a year ago, to C$5.53 billion, beating the consensus forecast of analysts for C$5.17 billion. Operating net earned premiums totaled C$5 billion, up 1.5% on the year before but slightly below the C$5.08 billion expected by analysts.
Intact Financial said it achieved a mid-teens return on equity despite elevated catastrophe losses and inflation pressures, with the ratio narrowing a half percentage point to 16.5%.
The company also boosted its quarterly dividend 10%, to C$1.10 a share.
Intact Financial said it expects "firm-to-hard" insurance market conditions to continue over the next 12 months in most lines of business, driven by inflation, natural disasters and a hard reinsurance market.
The company said it anticipates firm market conditions in Canada to continue in personal property, and for personal auto premiums to grow by mid-single digits in response to inflation and evolving driving patterns.
Write to Robb M. Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires