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U.S. insurer Travelers beats profit estimates on strong investment returns

Property and casualty insurer Travelers Cos Inc (TRV.N) reported a drop in third-quarter profit on Tuesday that still beat estimates, as higher investment returns mainly from its non-fixed income portfolio softened the blow from a jump in catastrophe losses.

The company, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index (.DJI), is seen as the bellwether for the insurance sector and typically reports ahead of its peers.

The company reported a core income of $655 million, or $2.60 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30, while analysts had expected $1.67 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

In the year-ago period, the New York-based insurer had reported a profit of $798 million, or $3.12 per share.

The company reported pre-tax net investment income of $771 million, up 15% from last year. Low interest rates and hot capital markets in the U.S. helped the insurer yield higher returns from its non-fixed income investments, which offset a weak performance from its fixed-income investments.

Flash flooding and heavy rains due to Ida in late August caused damage to property and disrupted businesses. These losses are expected to take a big chunk out of insurers’ earnings, with catastrophe-risk modeling firm Risk Management Solutions Inc estimating U.S. insurers could lose between $31 billion and $44 billion. (https://bit.ly/3jeJdZp)

Travelers’ catastrophe losses, net of reinsurance, came in at $501 million, compared to $397 million a year earlier.

The company reported a combined ratio of 98.6% for the quarter, compared with 94.9% a year earlier. A ratio below 100% means the insurer earned more in premiums than it paid out in claims.

Total revenues rose 6% to $8.81 billion.

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