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ACE, XL earnings strong in first half


HAMILTON, Bermuda--Bermuda-based insurers ACE Ltd. and XL Capital Ltd. on Tuesday each reported double-digit earnings growth for the first six months of 2007, beating analysts' projections.

Despite a first-quarter hit of $88 million pretax related to floods in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, ACE's net income for the first six months increased 27% to $1.35 billion, the company reported.

ACE's better-than-expected earnings were driven in part by a lower-than-anticipated accident year loss ratio, an analyst from New York-based Bear Stearns wrote in a report issued Wednesday. The insurer's combined ratio also improved slightly to 87.4% for the first-half of 2007, compared with 89.3% for the comparable 2006 period.

Meanwhile, XL's net income grew 30.5% to $1.12 billion, while its combined ratio also improved to 88.2% for the first six months of 2007, compared with 91.3% for the first half of 2006.

In a statement, XL President and Chief Executive Officer Brian M. O'Hara attributed XL's earnings surge to "our continuous improvement in risk management, commitment to disciplined growth, along with our sharpened strategic focus."