Insurance company

XL Capital

(XL) - Get Report

said first-quarter earnings shot up on the strength of strong underwriting growth and sharply higher premium rates.

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The Bermuda company said it earned $239.9 million, or $1.74 an ordinary share, including a $41 million write-down of its Annuity & Life Re Holdings investment, compared with net income of $89.5 million, or 65 cents an ordinary share, in the first quarter of 2002. Net operating income for the first quarter was $250.1 million, or $1.82 a share, compared with net operating income of $207.6 million, or $1.51 a share, last year.

XL said net earned premiums jumped 42% in the quarter in both its insurance and reinsurance segments. "Our general insurance and reinsurance businesses continue to see very strong pricing, most notably in casualty, professional lines and marine worldwide," the company said in a release.

Analysts surveyed by First Call were predicting first-quarter earnings of $1.86 a share.