The Hartford (NYSE:HIG) reported a net loss of $46 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2012 (fourth quarter 2012) compared with net income of $118 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011 (fourth quarter 2011). The decline in net income compared to the prior year quarter was due to higher catastrophe losses, largely from Storm Sandy, restructuring and other costs, hedging losses on runoff annuity blocks, and increased net realized capital losses due to the sales of the Retirement Plans and Individual Life businesses.
Fourth quarter 2012 core earnings** declined to $265 million, or $0.54 per diluted share, from $301 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2011. The decrease in fourth quarter 2012 results was due to higher catastrophe losses as a result of Storm Sandy in the company's Property & Casualty (P&C) operations which were offset by improved results in Group Benefits, Corporate and Talcott Resolution, which is comprised of the company's legacy Wealth Management runoff businesses, as well as the Individual Life and Retirement Plans businesses that were sold in January, 2013.
The company also announced that it has reviewed with the Connecticut Insurance Department its capital management plans and that it has received approval from the Department for a $1.2 billion extraordinary dividend from its Connecticut domiciled life insurance companies. In addition, it expects to dissolve the company's Vermont life reinsurance captive and return approximately $300 million of surplus to the holding company. These actions are expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2013.
*Denotes financial measures not calculated based on generally accepted accounting principles (“non-GAAP"). **The company changed the calculation of core earnings in the fourth quarter of 2012. Please see the Discussion of Non-GAAP Financial Measures section below for the current definition of core earnings and reconciliations to net income.The company also announced that it expects to reduce debt by approximately $1 billion, including the repayment of the 2013 and 2014 debt maturities totaling $520 million. In addition, The Hartford's Board of Directors has authorized a $500 million share repurchase program, expiring at Dec. 31, 2014.