Confirming the grim forecast it laid out at the start of the month,
American International Group
said Thursday that it lost $103.8 million in the fourth quarter because of a huge charge to make up for previously underestimated insurance liabilities.
The company saw its stock plummet to a four-year low after it told investors about the charge on Feb. 4. The reserve turned what would have been a better than $2 billion profit in the period to the $103.8 million loss, which comes out to 3 cents a share. In the year-ago quarter AIG earned $1.87 billion, or 70 cents a share.
On the bright side, the world's biggest insurer expects to return to its profitable ways in the current year, pegging earnings at $9.9 billion to $10.3 billion, or $3.78 to $3.92 a share, barring any worldwide calamities. The consensus estimate of analysts polled by First Call was for 2003 earnings of $3.75.
AIG said net premiums written rose 39% in the quarter to $7.21 billion. The shares closed last night at $46.50, down 94 cents.