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Standard & Poor's revises Liberty Mutual outlook to positive


NEW YORK—Standard & Poor's Corp. on Tuesday revised its outlook on Liberty Mutual Group Inc. to positive from stable, noting factors such as the Boston-based insurer's profitability compared with rivals.

“The outlook revision reflects our view that (Liberty Mutual)'s results improved in 2010, and that the first six months of 2011 performance compares favorably with peers' and the (property/casualty) industry's,” S&P Credit Analyst Birgitte Arendal said in a statement.

Liberty reported a combined ratio of 95.7% during the first half, excluding catastrophes and net incurred losses attributable to prior years. The ratio improved by 1.5 percentage points from the same period last year.

“We believe and expect Liberty's workers compensation book to exert moderate downward pressure on operating profitability, but we expect other lines of business to perform substantially better, with a combined ratio of less than 100%,” S&P said in its statement.

The ratings could come under pressure if Liberty’s overall operating performance deteriorates significantly with a combined ratio of more than 110%, S&P said.

S&P on affirmed its ratings for Liberty Mutual, including the company’s BBB- long-term counterparty credit and senior unsecured debt ratings as well as it A- insurer financial strength rating.

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