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Despite Sandy, Insurers Keep Improving During 2013

Berkshire Hathaway's Class B shares closed at $117.03 Friday, rising 31% this year. The shares trade for 18.0 times the consensus 2014 EPS estimate of $6.51, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Allstate Corp.

Allstate Corp. (ALL - Get Report) reported first-half underwriting income of $727 million, increasing from $657 million in the first half of 2012. The company's combined ratio for its property and liability insurance units declined to 94.7% in the first half of 2013 from 95.1% a year earlier.

The combined ratio is an insurer's claims and expenses divided by its earned premiums. A ratio below 100% indicates an underwriting profit.

Allstate's net income available to common shareholders during the first half of 2013 was $1.143 billion, or $2.39 a share, compared to $1.189 billion, or $2.39 a share, during the first half of 2012. The year-over-year profit decline reflected an increase in first-quarter losses.

Allstate's shares closed at $53.35 Friday, returning 35% this year. The shares trade for 10.3 times the consensus 2014 EPS estimate of $5.18.

The Travelers Companies

The Travelers Companies (TRV - Get Report) for the first three quarters of 2013 reported an underwriting gain of $1.478 billion, increasing from $845 million during the first three quarters of 2012. The combined ratio improved to 90.6% during the first three quarters of 2013 from 94.3% a year earlier.

The company's net income increased to $2.685 billion, or $2.35 a share, during the first three quarters, from $2.169 billion, or $2.22 a share, during the first three quarters of 2012.

Shares of Travelers closed at $86.63 Friday, returning 23% this year. The shares trade for 10.8 times the consensus 2014 EPS estimate of $8.07.

American International Group

When we looked at the major P&C carriers right before Hurricane Sandy hit last year, American International Group (AIG - Get Report) was lagging the group by continuing to post underwriting losses in its property and casualty insurance business. The company for the first half of 2013 reported a small P&C underwriting profit of $6 million, compared to an underwriting loss of $397 million during the first half of 2012. The combined ratio for the first half of 2012 was 100.0%, improving from 102.3% a year earlier.
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