American International Group Inc., one of the largest U.S. insurers, reported better-than-expected first-quarter operating profit on Wednesday, helped by investment returns and cost cuts.
AIG reported operating earnings of $1.37 billion, or $1.36 per share, compared with $765 million, or 64 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.
That easily beat Wall Street’s average estimate of $1.08 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Its shares rose 2 percent after hours to $62.90.
AIG booked nearly $1.2 billion in net income during the 2017 first quarter or $1.18 per diluted, compared to a $183 million loss, or negative $0.16 per diluted share, in the 2016 first quarter.
Its commercial insurance combined ratio was 102.2, up from 97.7 over the same period a year ago. Commercial insurance net premiums written were above $3.6 billion in the 2017 first quarter, down from $4.37 billion in the 2016 first quarter. Liability and financial lines produced a 105.4 combined ratio, versus 96.8 in the 2016 first quarter. Property and special risks saw an improved 97.7 combined ratio, compared to 99.1 over the same period last year.
The personal insurance combined ratio was 96.6, up from 94.6 in the 2016 first quarter. Net premiums written for personal insurance surpassed $2.6 billion, down 5 percent from $2.8 billion in the 2016 first quarter.
The New York-based insurer, which is the largest U.S. underwriter of commercial property and casualty policies, also said its board authorized an additional $2.5 billion in share repurchases, putting the company closer to its goal of returning $25 billion of capital to investors by year-end.
That is a central part of a two-year turnaround plan underway at AIG, which has been the target of activist investors led by billionaire Carl Icahn. The company has returned $18.1 billion to shareholders through buybacks since announcing the plan last year.
The results mark a rebound from a surprisingly wide loss in the fourth quarter, which stunned investors and AIG’s board, triggering the resignation of Chief Executive Peter Hancock. Hancock said on March 9 he would depart once the board found a replacement.
Profit was also boosted by lower-than-expected catastrophe losses, better selection of commercial risks it insures and getting rid of legacy businesses, the company said.
“Our first quarter results highlight the success of the actions we have taken to execute on our strategy, strengthen our balance sheet, and improve earnings quality,” Hancock said in a statement.
*Carrier Management added additional material to this story.