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Core net operating earnings is a non-GAAP financial measure, which sets aside significant items that are generally not considered to be part of the ongoing operations, such as net realized gains or losses on investments, and the usual unlocking charges, effect of certain accounting changes, discontinued operations, special asbestos and environmental charges, and certain other non-recurring items.AFG believes this non-GAAP measure to be a useful tool for analysts and investors in analyzing ongoing operation trends and will be discussed for various periods during this call. A reconciliation of net earnings attributable to shareholders to core net operating earnings is included in our earnings release. Now I’m pleased to turn the call over to Carl Lindner III to discuss our results. Carl Lindner Good morning. And thank you for joining us. We released our 2012 second quarter results yesterday afternoon and are pleased with another quarter of strong operating earnings in our Specialty, Property and Casualty and annuity and supplemental businesses. I am assuming that the participants on today’s call reviewed our earnings release and supplemental materials posted on the website. I’m going to review a few highlights and focus today’s discussion on key issues. I will also briefly discuss our outlook for the remainder of 2012. Now let’s start by looking at our second quarter results summarized on slides three and four of the webcast. Net earnings were $1.01 per share for the quarter including realized gains of $0.10 per share, core net operating earnings for the quarter were $90 million or $0.91 per shares compared to the prior year’s result of $74 million or $0.72 per share. Record profit in our annuity and supplemental group and approved underwriting results in our Specialty, Property and Casualty operations were offset somewhat by lower Property and Casualty investment income. While both periods reflect the effect of share repurchases. Annualize core operating return on equity was approximately 9%. Our capital adequacy, financial condition and liquidity remain strong in our key areas of focus for us.
We maintain sufficient capital in our insurance businesses to meet our commitments to the rating agencies in support of our current rating roles. Our excess capital was approximately $590 million at June 30th, 2012, which included cash at the parent company of approximately $484 million.As you know, in June, we issued $230 million of 6.375 debentures due 2042. The proceeds from this offering are included in our parent company cash balance at June 30th. In July, AFG use these proceeds to regain approximately $200 million of 7.5 and 7.25 senior notes due in 2033 and 2034. The remainder of the proceeds are used for general corporate purposes. We’ve continued to deploy our excess capital in ways that enhance shareholder value. We repurchased 2.5 million shares of our common stock during the second quarter in average price of $30.55 per share for approximately 95% of June 30, 2012 book value per share. As of July 30th, 2012 there are approximately 3.4 million shares remaining under our repurchase authorization. Based on the company’s operating performance and its strong capital and liquidity position, AFG’s Board of Directors approved an increase in the annual dividend from $0.70 to $0.78 per share per year effective for dividend payments made on or after October 1st, 2012. This increase reflects our confidence in the company’s financial condition and its prospects for long-term growth. The five-year annual compounded growth rate of our dividend is 12.5%. In addition to share repurchases and dividends, we continue to seek other alternatives for deployment of our excess capital. We’ve invested excess capital when we see potential for healthy profitable organic growth, and we’re always looking for opportunities to expand our special niche businesses through startups or acquisitions, so that makes sense. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com