Mercury General Earnings Fall

The latest quarter is hit by a tax charge.
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Mercury General

(MCY) - Get Report

first-quarter earnings fell 3%.

The Los Angeles-based company earned $58.6 million, or $1.07 a share, in the quarter, compared with $60.4 million, or $1.10 a share, a year ago. The latest quarter's results include an income tax charge of around $15 million, or 27 cents a share. Earnings also include net realized investment gains of 8 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 92 cents a share in the most recent quarter.

Net premiums written increased 6.1% to $774 million and net premiums earned rose 8.4% to $736.7 million.

The company's combined ratio was 91.8% in the first quarter compared with 92.6% in the same period for 2005. Positive development on prior period loss reserves was around $10 million for the current quarter compared with $20 million a year ago. Net investment income increased 37% to $39.4 million. The after-tax yield on investment income was 4.1% in the latest quarter, compared with 3.4% a year ago.

The board declared a quarterly dividend of 48 cents a share, an increase of 11.6%. The dividend is payable June 29 to shareholders of record on June 15.

The company's shares were trading at $57.40, down 11 cents.

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