Shares of insurance group Allmerica Financial ( AFC) were down almost 7% to $33.34 Friday, after the company announced a net first-quarter profit of $46.5 million or 86 cents per share Thursday, compared with $12 million, or 23 cents per share a year ago.

The company attributed the higher profit to lower catastrophe losses, which were $12 million in the first quarter of 2005, vs. $21 million in the same period last year.

Net income in the first quarter of last year included an after-tax charge of $57 million, and an after-tax benefit of $30 million. Net of those charges, the profit in 2004 was $39 million, or 73 cents a share.

Analyst estimates were for EPS of 77 cents.

The Worcester, Mass.-based company has four operating segments, which produced net income of $34 million, compared with $33 million in the previous year. While personal lines of insurance grew 2 1/2 times to $39 million, commercial lines declined 23% to $20.5 million. The Life Companies division had a net loss of $7.4 million, compared with a profit of $10 million last year.

"Our first-quarter results reflect a 60% increase in our property and casualty earnings and continued strength in our Life Companies' capital position," said Frederick H. Eppinger, president and chief executive officer of Allmerica Financial, in a statement.

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