National Interstate ( NATL) said earnings rose 19% from a year ago for the fourth quarter.

The Richfield, Ohio-based insurance company earned $7.9 million, or 41 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $6.7 million, or 42 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 34 cents a share in the most recent quarter.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 21.9% from a year ago to $55.8 million. Total premium earned increased 22.4% to $51.9 million and net investment income increased to $3.54 million from $2.43 million.

Loss and loss adjustment expenses increased 27.4% to $30.4 million, while loss and loss adjustment expense ratio increased 227 basis points to 58.6%. Underwriting expense ratio decreased 110 basis points to 24.7% and combined ratio stands at 83.2%.

"We are very satisfied with the results from both the fourth quarter and full year of 2005 and the successful completion of our first year as a public company," the company said.

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