Please also note that no portion of this conference call may be reproduced or rebroadcast in any form without the prior written consent of Chubb. Replays of this webcast will be available through May 18, 2012. Those listening after April 19, 2012 should please note that the information and forecast provided in this recording will not necessarily be updated and it is possible that the information will no longer be current.Now, I will turn the call over to Mr. Finnegan. John D. Finnegan Thank you, for joining us. We had a very good first quarter, highlighted by a strong underlying performance and relatively benign catastrophe losses. We're also very pleased that the positive rate momentum we have seen in recent quarters has continued. Operating income per share was $1.70 compared to $1.35 in last year's first quarter. This resulted in an annualized operating ROE of 13.8% for the first quarter this year. The combined ratio for the quarter was 90.2 compared to 93.7 last year. Excluding cash, the combined ratio for the first quarter was 89.4 in 2012 and 84.2 last year, with the difference almost entirely attributable to lower favorable development this quarter. During the first quarter, we had net realized investment gains of $56 million before tax or $0.13 per share after tax. This brought our first quarter net income per share to $1.83, resulting in an annualized ROE of 13.1%. Chubb's book value per share at March 31, 2012 was $57.37. As the 2% increase share in 2011 and a 10% increase this March 31, a year ago. Our capital position is excellent. During the first quarter, we increased our common stock dividend for the 30th consecutive year, and we also continued our share repurchase program as Ricky will discuss later. Net written premiums were up 3% driven by Chubb Commercial and Chubb Personal Insurance. Excluding the impact of currency translation, net written premiums were up 4%.
In terms of the market environment, average renewal rates increased in our U.S. standard commercial lines by high single digits, and our specialty book by mid-single digits. A continuation of this rate environment should bode well for our future profitability. Paul and Dino will talk more about rates and reviews of their segments.And now we'll start with Paul, who will discuss the performance of Chubb's Commercial and Specialty Insurance operations. Paul J. Krump Thanks, John. The Chubb Commercial Insurance, net written premiums for the first quarter were up 6% to $1.4 billion. The combined ratio was 93.3 versus 100.7 in the first quarter of 2011. Excluding the impact of catastrophes, CCI's first quarter combined ratio was 92.4% compared to 84.5% in the first quarter of 2011. This increase is favorable reserve development in the first quarter of this year. We are pleased with CCI's average U.S. renewal rate increase in the first quarter of 8%, continuing the rate momentum that we have been discussing on our recent earnings calls. This 8% compares with the 6% we obtained in the fourth quarter last year and 0 in the first quarter of 2011. As with the case in the fourth quarter of last year, CCI secured U.S. renewal rate increases in each line of business in the first quarter of 2012. Monoline property rates increased the most, climbing by double digits, followed by workers' compensation, general liability, package, excess umbrella, automobile, boiler and Marine. Further evidence of continued positive rate momentum can be found in the growing proportion of our accounts that are renewing with rate increases. In the first quarter, about 80% of our U.S. accounts that renewed received a rate increase, compared to 70% in the fourth quarter of last year. Turning now to markets outside of the United States, we are especially encouraged that CCI's renewal rates were up in the low single digits in Europe. Although modest, these were the best rate increases we've had in Europe since 2004. In addition, CCI continued to obtain rate increases in Canada and Australia, along with some of our smaller markets in Asia. With respect to CCI's exposure change metrics during the first quarter, we experienced healthy midterm endorsement activity, as well as strong workers' compensation premium audits. In fact, audit and endorsement premium accounted for more than 1/4 of our workers' compensation lines, robust growth in the quarter. The remainder was attributable to strong renewal rate and exposure increases, with only a minor decline in retention. New business volume for workers' comp also exceeded lost business but was slightly lower compared to new business in the year-ago first quarter. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com