American Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE: AFG) today reported 2016 third quarter net earnings attributable to shareholders of $109 million ($1.23 per share) compared to $63 million ($0.71 per share) for the 2015 third quarter. Net earnings for the quarter include after-tax charges of $26 million ($0.30 per share) to strengthen the Company's asbestos and environmental ("A&E") reserves and $1 million ($0.02 per share) in after-tax realized gains. Comparatively, net earnings in the 2015 third quarter included net after-tax charges of $60 million ($0.67 per share). Details may be found in the table below. Book value per share increased by $1.88 to $59.45 per share during the third quarter of 2016. Annualized return on equity was 9.9% and 5.9% for the third quarters of 2016 and 2015, respectively. Core net operating earnings were $134 million ($1.51 per share) for the 2016 third quarter, compared to $123 million ($1.38 per share) in the 2015 third quarter. The $1.51 per share established a new high for third quarter core EPS. The improved results were attributable to significantly higher operating earnings in our Annuity Segment and higher net investment income in our Specialty Property and Casualty ("P&C") insurance operations, which were partially offset by lower Specialty P&C underwriting profit. Book value per share, excluding unrealized gains on fixed maturities, increased by $1.51 to $51.73 per share during the third quarter of 2016. Core net operating earnings for the third quarters of 2016 and 2015 generated annualized core returns on equity of 12.2% and 11.6%, respectively. During the third quarter of 2016, AFG repurchased approximately 358,000 shares of common stock at an average price per share of $73.98. The Company also announced today that it declared a special cash dividend of $1.00 per share of American Financial Group Common Stock. The dividend is payable on December 7, 2016 to shareholders of record on November 23, 2016. The aggregate amount of this special dividend will be approximately $87 million. This special dividend is in addition to the Company's regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.3125 per share, which was increased in August 2016 for the eleventh consecutive year.