W.R. Berkley's ( BER) second-quarter earnings rose 23.4% from a year ago, owing to increase in revenue and net investment income.

The Greenwich, Conn.-based property casualty insurance provider earned $165.45 million, or 82 cents a share, compared with $134.08 million, or 67 cents a share, a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 79 cents a share for the period.

Second-quarter revenue rose 11.2% to $1.358 billion, surpassing analysts' estimates of $1.315 billion.

Net operating income for the second quarter, excluding realized investment gains and losses, rose 27.4% to $165.99 million, or 82 cents a share. Revenue collected from premiums earned climbed 7.3% to $1.218 billion while net investment income rose 54.9% to $145.07 million.

At the end of June, the company repurchased 1.4 million shares for $31.73 a share.

Loss ratio, losses and loss expenses incurred as a percentage of premiums earned increased 60 basis points to 62.5% and expense ratio decreased 90 basis points to 26.4%.

"Our business continues to perform extremely well with overall pricing levels down slightly but still adequate to allow for substantial underwriting profits," the company said. "In spite of typical second quarter storm activity in our regional segment, we were able to deliver a return to shareholders in excess of 25%."

Shares rose $2.02 Wednesday to $35.51.
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