Travelers shares jump 3.6% premarket after first-quarter earnings top estimates

Insurer The Travelers Cos. Inc. said Tuesday it had net income of $733 million, or $2.87 a share, in the first quarter, up from $600 million, or $2.33 a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted per-share earnings came to $2.73, well ahead of the $2.37 FactSet consensus. Revenue rose 5% to $8.313 billion from $7.908 billion a year ago. The FactSet consensus was for revenue of $7.553 billion. Net written premiums rose 2% to $7.505 billion. “Core income increased primarily due to higher net favorable prior year reserve development, a higher underlying underwriting gain (i.e., excluding net prior year reserve development and catastrophe losses) and higher net investment income, partially offset by higher catastrophe losses,” the company said in a statement. Net realized investment gains came to $44 million pretax, after net realized investment losses of $98 million pre-tax a year ago. Catastrophe losses of $835 million pre-tax compared to $333 million pre-tax a year ago, and set a record, driven by severe winter weather. “Underlying underwriting income was meaningfully higher than in the prior year quarter, driven by higher net earned premiums and an underlying combined ratio which improved to an excellent 89.5%,” Chief Executive Alan Schnitzer said in a statement. Traveler’s raised its quarterly cash dividend by 4% to 88 cents a share, and the board approved an additional $5 billion of share buybacks. Shares rose 3.6% premarket and were up 10% in the year to date, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average , which counts Travelers as a member, has gained 11.3%.

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