Hartford Predicts Strong P-C Results For '09

BY ARTHUR D. POSTAL
National Underwriter News
December 5, 2008


Hartford Insurance Group officials predict the company's property-casualty business is positioned to deliver "strong underwriting results" next year, boosting its profit target by 40 cents a share.

The remarks came during the Hartford, Conn., company's investor meeting held today.

The company boosted its yearly profit target for this year from a range of $4.30-to-$4.50 a share to $4.70-to-$4.90 a share, which caused the stock to rise in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange despite dour new data on job loss in the economy in November.

But the comments didn't reflect Hartford's decision in October to more than halve its yearly per-share forecast as it posted $2.63 billion net loss for the third quarter on investment losses and problems with its variable annuities business.

However, the company said it "expects to recover the vast majority" of the unrealized loss position it wrote off as of Oct. 31, "even in a deep recession."

Hartford 's stock has been battered, and it has announced plans to acquire a troubled thrift and seek approval for a thrift savings bank charter as a means of participating in the government's capital purchase program.

Ramani Ayer, Hartford's chairman and chief executive officer, said that despite the turbulence in the economy, the Hartford's operating businesses are performing well, its capital "remains strong," and its investment portfolio remain "economically sound."

Mr. Ayer said the Hartford "is well capitalized and has ample liquidity."

He said the company's statutory surplus exceeded $13 billion as of Sept. 30 and "we hold more than $12 billion in cash, short-term investments and Treasuries as of November 30, 2008," noting that the firm's property and casualty operations are capitalized at levels higher than those historically associated with a "double-A"-level rated company.

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