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AXIS Capital posts $70.6M loss for nine months


PEMBROKE, Bermuda—AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd. said Tuesday reported a loss to shareholders of $70.6 million during the first nine months of the year, compared with a $555.5 million profit during the same period in 2010.

The Pembroke, Bermuda-based insurer and reinsurer's gross written premiums climbed 10.1% year over year to $3.4 billion in the year to date ended Sept. 30. But its net investment income dropped 13.0% to $260.1 million in the first nine months.

Losses during the first nine months included $371 million related to two earthquakes in New Zealand, $158 million to the March 11 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, $72 million to events in Australia in the first quarter, and $34 million to U.S. storms and tornadoes in April and May, according to the company's 10Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. During the comparable period in 2010, AXIS had $121 million in losses for an earthquake in Chile and a combined $49 million in losses for events including Australian storms, European Windstorm Xynthia and U.S. storms.

AXIS' third quarter net income fell 11.2% to $212.1 million compared with the year-ago period. Its gross written premiums rose in the quarter by 11% to $835 million. Net investment income fell 56% to $49 million in the third quarter.

The company estimated it sustained losses of $65 million related to Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Danish flooding in the third quarter. Total net catastrophe losses in the quarter rose to $91 million, up 7.1% from the third quarter of 2010.

“Our third-quarter underwriting results were very good in light of catastrophe activity which we would consider higher than normal for the quarter,” AXIS President and CEO John Charman said in a transcript of an earnings call published on the website Seeking Alpha.

The company had estimated in July that it would sustain losses between $60 million and $70 million related to severe weather in the United States, and in April that it would lose about $285 million from the Japanese earthquake.