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Investment drop batters Berkley's second quarter profit

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Second quarter net income was off 31.9% to $123.0 million for Greenwich, Connecticut-based insurer W.R. Berkley Corp. as net investment gains plummeted and expenses rose for the quarter.

Net written premiums in the second quarter were up 3.6% from the prior year to $1.54 billion as revenue slipped 0.4% to $1.79 billion for the quarter.

Profits were hit hard, however, as net investment gains dropped 74.7% to $27.6 million and expenses rose 4.4% to $906.2 million during the quarter.

The company’s combined ratio for the second quarter was almost flat at 93.1% compared with 93.2% in the year-ago period.

“It was an interesting quarter, exciting in many ways, challenging in many ways,” William R. Berkley, chairman and CEO, said on a call to investors Monday after markets closed.

Commercial auto, aviation and marine markets remain challenging, according to W. Robert Berkley, president and COO, speaking on the call, and offshore energy has recently become more competitive, he added.

For the six months ended June 30, net income declined 31% to $241.3 million.

First half net premiums written increased 3.4% to $3.12 billion as revenues for the period increased 0.9% to $3.50 billion.

First-half net investment gains dropped 71.2% to $46.6 million as expenses rose 6.9% to $1.81 billion.

The company’s combined ratio for the six months ended June 30 was almost flat at 93.0% compared with 92.8% in the year-ago period.