NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) -

Travelers

(TRV) - Get Report

reported third-quarter earnings of $1.005 billion, or $2.11 per share, up from a profit of $935 billion, $1.65 a share, in the same period last year.

The average estimate of analysts polled by

Thomson Reuters

was for earnings for $1.45 a share in operating earnings and net written premiums of $5.4 billion for the quarter.

Net written premiums for the quarter were $5.46 billion compared to $5.34 billion in the same period last year. The insurers' combined ratio - a key indicator of underwriting profitability -- was 90.6%, up from 89.7% in the third quarter of 2009.

"While current profitability across our diversified commercial insurance businesses is solid, the general economic environment continues to present challenges. Reinvestment yields are low by historical standards and exposure and pricing remain flat," said Travelers CEO and chairman Jay Fishman in a statement.

Fishman added the company was "committed to returning excess capital to shareholders" and cited past share repurchase plans as key to that strategy.