Unrealized gains in the available-for-sale investment portfolio, including equity securities, at the end of March 31, 2012 were $324.1 million, a decrease of $11.7 million from year end 2011.
Book yield on the fixed income portfolio was 3.31%, a decrease of 6 basis points compared with the fourth quarter of 2011 and down 34 basis points from 3.65% at the end of the first quarter of 2011. The average credit quality of the portfolio was AA with an average duration of 2.39 years, including the impact of interest rate swaps.
On April 11, 2012, Aspen issued 6,400,000 shares of its newly designated 7.250% Perpetual Non-Cumulative Preference Shares, par value $0.15144558 per share and a liquidation preference of $25.00 per share (representing $160 million in aggregate liquidation preference for net proceeds of $155 million).Outlook for 2012 Given current market conditions, Aspen continues to anticipate gross written premiums for 2012 to be unchanged from its initial guidance of $2.3 billion +/- 5%, premiums ceded to be between 10% and 12% of gross earned premiums and the combined ratio to be in the range of 93% to 98% including a catastrophe load of $150 million for the remainder of the year, assuming normal loss experience. Aspen continues to expect the effective tax rate in 2012 to be in the range of 8% to 12%. See “Forward-looking Statements Safe Harbor” below. Earnings conference call and web cast Aspen will host a conference call to discuss the results at 9:00 am (EST) on Thursday, April 26, 2012. To participate in the April 26 conference call by phonePlease call to register at least 10 minutes before the conference call begins by dialing: +1 (888) 459 5609 (US toll free) or+1 (404) 665 9920 (international)Conference ID 57881020 To listen live onlineAspen will provide a live webcast at www.aspen.co(Investors and Media > Investor Relations > Presentations) To download the materialsThe earnings press release and a detailed financial supplement will also be published on Aspen’s web site. To listen laterA replay of the call will be available for 14 days via phone and internet, available two hours after the end of the live call. To listen to the replay by phone please dial: +1 (855) 859 2056 (US toll free) or+1 (404) 537 3406 (international)Replay ID 57881020