Later in the call I will provide further commentary on market conditions, our crop insurance business, capital management and recent management changes. But first I will pass the call over to Mike McGuire who will review our financial results in more detail.
Thanks, David, and good morning everyone. In the first quarter, Endurance generated net income to common shareholders of $74.4 million and $1.72 per diluted share and operating income of $53.3 and $1.23 per diluted share.
Our diluted book value per share ended the quarter at $51.90, up 2.7% from yearend and up 3.3% when excluding the $0.31 per share in dividends paid during the quarter. In comparison to the first quarter of 2011 the improvement in our results was primarily due to a lower level of catastrophe losses in our reinsurance segment, improved accident year results and our crop and U.S. insurance business and higher net investment income in foreign exchange gains.
Starting with premium writings, the first quarter is typically our largest written premium quarter as it includes 11 renewals in the reinsurance segment and spring crop premiums in our agriculture insurance line of business. Net premiums written in the current quarter were $843.1 million, an increase of 5.5% over the same period in 2011.
Our Insurance segment generated net premiums of 427.8 million in the quarter, down just 1% year-over-year. Premium declines in our property insurance line of business were mostly offset by growth in our agriculture line of business.
The decline in property insurance premiums reflects a reduction in the amount of capital deployed to the all risk market and capital reallocations within the DIC market to improve the ROE potential in this business. Timing differences in the accounting recognition of growth versus ceded premiums written also impacted the change in net property insurance premiums.
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