American Financial Rises on First-Quarter Profit Gain (Update1)

By Cordell Eddings
Bloomberg News
May 5, 2009

May 5 (Bloomberg) -- American Financial Group Inc., the seller of annuities and crop insurance, rose the most in six months after posting a 37 percent profit gain on lower investment losses.

The insurer climbed $1.89, or 10 percent, to $20.77 at 12:19 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading after gaining as much as 15 percent earlier today. American Financial has fallen 25 percent in the past year, outperforming the 32 percent decline in the Standard & Poor's 400 Midcap Index.

First-quarter net income rose to $103.8 million from $76 million a year earlier, the company said late yesterday in statement. Realized investment losses narrowed to $41.3 million from $80.3 million.

"Diminishing noise from the investment side" helped the shares, said Amit Kumar, an analyst with Fox-Pitt Kelton Cochran Caronia Waller, in an e-mail. Kumar rates the Cincinnati-based company "outperform."

American Financial increased its earnings forecast for 2009 by five cents to a range of $3.75 to $4.05 a share.

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