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(TRV) - Get Travelers Companies, Inc. Report

earned $894 million, or $1.95 a share, in the fourth quarter, vs. year-earlier earnings of $1.29 billion, or $2.36 a share.

Travelers, in a press release Tuesday, said the year-earlier quarter benefited from higher favorable reserve developments and lower catastrophe losses.

Fourth-quarter revenue fell 2% to $6.332 billion.

Net written premiums in the quarter were $5.23 billion vs. $5.19 billion last year.

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"We are encouraged by a number of positive changes in the operating environment during the fourth quarter across our diversified commercial insurance businesses," said Jay Fishman, chairman and CEO, in a statement. "Exposures increased for the first time since the third quarter of 2008, and, in the aggregate, the pricing environment was modestly better than in the third quarter."

Fishman said Travelers was "more optimistic about an improvement in the operating environment in 2011 than we were in previous quarters."

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected Travelers to earn $1.67 a share in the fourth quarter on revenue of $5.27 billion.

Travelers said its board authorized an additional $5 billion for repurchases of common stock. There remains about $1.5 billion under previous authorizations as of Dec. 31, 2010.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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Joseph Woelfel

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