said its first-quarter earnings rose close to 38%, helped by a decline in total expenses.
The Fairfield, Ohio-based company earned $51.9 million, or 80 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $37.7 million, or 55 cents a share, a year ago. After adjusting for after tax realized gains, the company earned $42.7 million, or 66 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 64 cents a share in the most recent quarter.
First-quarter revenue rose 2.95% to $422.8 million as against analysts' estimate of $387.05 million. However, there was an overall decline in the premiums collected during the quarter due to increased competition.
Operating income margin for the quarter rose 92 basis points to 10.1%.
"We are pleased that our first quarter operating results continue to reflect strong underwriting profitability," the company said. "The numbers demonstrate that our underwriting discipline continues to be an effective tool for producing steady earnings growth, even in a competitive market environment. First quarter results also benefited from favorable loss frequency trends and positive reserve development. While we still face challenges in growing our top line, our independent agents continue to reward us with higher renewal retention and are being very responsive to our premium growth initiatives while maintaining underwriting profitability."
Shares dropped $1.46 to $30.93.
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