CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) ¿ Specialty insurer and reinsurer Max Capital Group Ltd. on Tuesday posted a better-than-expected first-quarter profit, helped by strong performance of its underwriting businesses in Bermuda, Dublin, the U.S. and Lloyd's.

Net income at the Bermuda-based company rose almost six times to $44.5 million, or 78 cents per share, from $7.7 million, or 13 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Max Capital said its operating income rose almost sevenfold to $41.7 million, or 73 cents per share. Operating income, which insurers emphasize because they say it better represents the health of an underwriter's business, excludes investment gains and losses.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, forecast earnings of 65 cents per share for the quarter.

Gross premiums written by Max Capital rose 42 percent to $434.3 million, with net premiums written increasing 34 percent from the year-earlier period to $269.9 million.

The increase in gross premiums written reflects, in part, the company's Max at Lloyd's segment and modest growth in each of the company's other property and casualty segments, Max Capital said in a statement.

Shares of Max Capital rose 39 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $17.38 in morning trading.
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