American Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE: AFG) (NASDAQ: AFG) today reported net earnings attributable to shareholders of $226 million ($2.39 per share) for the 2012 third quarter, compared to $97 million ($0.95 per share) for the 2011 third quarter. The 2012 third quarter results include $148 million ($1.57 per share) in after-tax non-core earnings, primarily the result of a $101 million after-tax gain on the sale of the Company’s supplemental insurance businesses, realized gains on securities and the results of AFG’s tax case resolution, which were offset somewhat by a reserve strengthening related to the Company’s asbestos and other environmental exposures. These, and other less significant non-core items, are outlined in the table below. Book value per share, excluding appropriated retained earnings and unrealized gains (losses) on fixed maturities, increased by $1.98 to $42.72 per share during the quarter. Net earnings attributable to shareholders for the 2012 nine month period were $438 million ($4.50 per share), compared with $233 million ($2.23 per share) in the comparable 2011 period.
Core net operating earnings were $78 million ($0.82 per share) for the 2012 third quarter, compared to $92 million ($0.91 per share) reported in the 2011 third quarter. Core net operating earnings for the first nine months of 2012 were $253 million ($2.59 per share) compared to $257 million ($2.47 per share) for the same period a year ago. Higher profits in our Annuity and Supplemental Insurance (“A&S”) Group were offset by lower underwriting earnings and lower investment income in our Specialty Property and Casualty Insurance (“P&C”) operations. Nine month annualized core operating return on equity was 9%.
During the third quarter of 2012, AFG repurchased 4.3 million shares of common stock at an average price per share of $37.64. Repurchases during the first nine months of 2012 were $315 million at an average price per share of $37.96.