Auto insurer Progressive ( PGR) saw a 16% boost to second-quarter profit despite some investment losses.

During the quarter, the company earned $250.1 million, or 37 cents per share, compared with $215.5 million, or 32 cents, in the year-ago period. Analysts expected earnings of 36 cents.

This was the first quarterly profit increase for the insurer since 2006.

But despite beating expectations by a penny, shares of Progressive slipped 1% to close at $14.32.

Net premiums written edged up 1% to $3.53 billion, while net premiums earned also rose 1% to $3.44 billion. Results included $15.9 million of investment gains, compared with a loss of $44.6 million a year-earlier.

Progressive's combined ratio, which reflects how much of premiums it pays out to cover claims, fell to 92.6% from 93.6% a year earlier. A ratio above 100 means the insurer is paying out more in claims and expenses than it takes in from writing policies.

Progressive is currently in the process of boosting its advertising to compete with rivals Geico, a unit of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK-A), and Allstate ( ALL).
Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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