LA JOLLA, Calif., Aug. 9, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PICO Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:PICO) reported shareholders' equity of $482.8 million ($21.20 per share) at June 30, 2012, compared to $497.8 million ($21.86 per share) at March 31, 2012, and $501.8 million ($22.10 per share) at December 31, 2011. Reported book value per share attributable to PICO shareholders decreased by $0.90, or 4.1%, during the first six months of 2012. PICO's President and Chief Executive Officer, John Hart, commented: "Construction of Northstar Agri Industries' canola processing plant near Hallock, Minnesota was completed during the second quarter of 2012, ahead of schedule and $2 million below our budgeted cost. Northstar's financial results to June 30 reflect start - up costs and a reduced level of activity during the performance testing period. The plant becomes fully operational later in August. We are encouraged by the continued bullish outlook for oilseeds in general, and canola in particular, and what appears to be extremely good agricultural conditions to produce a record canola crop from Canada for the upcoming canola crop season. "During the first half of 2012, UCP, LLC generated revenues of $5 million which had a gross margin of approximately 32%. We have built an organization to support the acquisition and development of lots and construction and sale of homes and, as yet, we have not reached the critical mass of monetizations to cover these costs. However, given the indicators that point to a housing recovery in our markets such as tightening inventories and rising home prices, we expect that activity should increase resulting in improved overall performance for the year. "Also during the second quarter of 2012, we entered into a definitive agreement to sell our legacy insurance operations, Physicians Insurance Company of Ohio and Citation Insurance Company. Physicians has been in run off since 1995, and Citation since 2001. The run offs have reached the point where we concluded that value would be maximized by selling the insurance operations and releasing the capital tied up in the insurance companies for reinvestment in opportunities with higher potential returns. Based on the surplus in the insurance companies at June 30, 2012 the sale will free up capital, in the form of cash and marketable equity securities, of approximately $45 million. We expect the sale to close before the end of 2012.