American Financial Group

(AFG) - Get Report

gained after the Cincinnati-based property and casualty insurer said second-quarter earnings rose 50.6%. Earnings were boosted by a one-time gain and the favorable resolution of tax issues.

The company earned $123 million, or $1.53 a share, up from $81.6 million, or $1.04 a share, a year ago. Adjusted for items, earnings were $93.4 million, or $1.16 a share, in the most recent quarter. Revenue rose 1% from a year ago to $995 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of $1.08 a share on revenue of $630.3 million.

The company expects core earnings of $4.35 a share to $4.65 a share for 2006. Analysts were expecting earnings of $4.29 a share for the full year. Shares were up $2.17, or 5.16%, to $44.20 in recent trading.

Universal American Financial

( UHCO) surged as the Rye Brook, N.Y.-based insurer said second-quarter revenue jumped 57% to $361.2 million.

The company earned $18.1 million, or 30 cents a share, compared to $18.7 million, or 32 cents a share. The year-ago quarter included $3 million, or 5 cents a share, of after-tax realized gains. The just-completed quarter included a $500,000 after-tax stock-option expense. Analysts, as surveyed by Thomson Financial, were looking for earnings of 26 cents a share.

For full-year 2006, Universal American said it expects to earn about $1.27 to $1.35 a share. The guidance, however, does not include the costs the company plans to incur during the remainder of 2006 to promote the growth of its Medicare Part D program and expand its presence in the Medicare Advantage business. Wall Street expects the company to earn $1.25. Shares gained $3.05, or 24.40%, to $15.55 recently.

Lazard

(LAZ) - Get Report

gained after the investment firm said second-quarter earnings nearly doubled as the company's revenue from advising on corporate mergers and restructurings rose 24%. Lazard, a boutique firm led by Bruce Wasserstein, is profiting from the boom in corporate deals this year.

In the quarter, Lazard's income was $62.9 million, or 60 cents a share, up from $32 million, or 32 cents a share, a year ago. Net revenue rose 25% to $386.9 million. Lazard, which went public in May 2005, said the results were calculated on a pro forma basis to take into consideration the firm's switch from a partnership to a publicly traded company. Analysts, as surveyed by Thomson Financial, were looking for earnings of 50 cents a share on revenue of $351.5 million. Shares climbed $2.40, or 6.35%, to $40.20 recently.

CNA Financial

(CNA) - Get Report

slipped after the Chicago-based insurer said it is issuing $500 million in new debt. The company plans to use the proceeds, along with gains from the sale of 7 million shares and a private placement of another 8 million shares, to repurchase preferred stock held by

Loews

( LTR). Loews owns 91% of CNA's outstanding shares. Shares of CNA slipped 88 cents, or 2.55%, to $33.62 recently.

Moody's

(MCO) - Get Report

gained as the New York-based bond-rating agency said second-quarter earnings rose 18%. The firm also issued an optimistic profit outlook for the second half of the year.

In the quarter, Moody's earned $172.1 million, or 59 cents a share, up from $145.4 million, or 47 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 14% to $511.4 million, a sign that corporations are continuing to issue bonds at a fast clip. Moody's earnings and revenue in the quarter came in ahead of Wall Street expectations. Analysts, as surveyed by Thomson Financial, were looking for earnings of 56 cents a share on revenue of $485.8 million.

Moody's says that despite the rise in interest rates, it still expects its bond-rating business to expand. The firm, which operates Moody's Investor Service, says, "We now believe that results for the full year 2006 will modestly exceed our prior forecast." Analysts, before Moody's bullish outlook, were looking for the company to earn between $2.03 a share and $2.13 a share for all of 2006. Shares recently climbed $4.16, or 7.69%, to $58.27.