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AIG Ready to Shop for Acquisitions (Update 1)

Updated with additional conference call comments from AIG executives.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- American International Group (AIG - Get Report) has plenty of capital to deploy, and not only through share buybacks.

Speaking during the company's third-quarter earnings conference call, AIG CEO Robert Benmosche said "so for the year we've been able to buy back $13 billion of our shares, $8 billion just in this quarter alone."

AIG CFO David Herzog said that the company's total capital ratio was 20%, and that "we remain committed to our goal of $25 to $30 million in capital management by 2015," and that the company is "roughly halfway there at this point."

Herzog also said that "we've described capital management to include more than just share buyback and this is a good time to remind you that we will consider acquisitions, investment in organic growth, debt capital management, and certainly maintaining strong capital at our operating companies."

When asked to provide additional "color" on the financial effect of Hurricane Sandy, Benmosche said "we're just going through this on a claim by claim basis," and that "it's hard for me to give you a scope of it because of some of the flooding and water damage that was done especially in the New York area, in Manhattan." He added that "we don't see this as being any kind of a huge issue for us financially other than just dealing with the issues at hand.

AIG EVP for General Insurance Peter Hancock said that "usually we get about 80% of our claims notices within about 90 days, so we're obviously at the very beginning of that whole process," and that "property damage comes in quicker than the business interruption and that we're looking at a broad range of commercial properties across sectors in the affected areas. It's a big, broad area and we're getting new information every day.

AIG late on Thursday reported third-quarter after-tax operating income of $1.6 billion, or $1.00 a share, beating the consensus estimate of 86 cents, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Earnings improved from an after-tax operating loss of $3.0 billion, or $1.58 a share, in the third quarter of 2011.

Despite the improved bottom-line result, AIG's Property Casualty division continued to show an underwriting loss, with a combined ratio of 105.0 during the third quarter, improving from 105.9 a year earlier. The combined ratio is the sum of incurred losses and expenses divided by earned premiums. It measures underwriting profitability, and a combined ratio of over 100% indicates an underwriting loss.

The Property Casualty unit's third-quarter underwriting loss was $441 million, improving from $532 million in the third quarter of 2011. The unit's overall performance improved, with third-quarter pre-tax income of $949 million, compared to $551 a year earlier, as net investment income increased 20% year-over-year, to $1.2 billion.

The company's third-quarter return on equity (ROE) was 7.0%.

Benmosche said on Thursday that AIG had repurchased $13 billion in common shares year-to-date, as the government reduced its stake in the company. "during the quarter, we achieved the important milestone of making America whole on the $182 billion support provided to AIG during the crisis, plus a combined positive return to the American taxpayers of more than $15 billion to date," he said.
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