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Insurer Hartford's third-quarter profit falls on natural disasters


HARTFORD, Conn. (Reuters)—Property and life insurer Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. on Wednesday posted a small per-share net loss for the third quarter as disaster losses rose in the wake of August's Hurricane Irene.

The Hartford, one of the oldest companies in the United States, also said operating earnings fell sharply, missing expectations that had been substantially lowered already.

The company reported a net result of zero, or a loss of 2 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier net profit of $666 million, or $1.34 per share.

On an operating basis, The Hartford earned 5 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S on average expected earnings of 23 cents per share.

That is about two-thirds less than they expected just one month ago.

As in recent quarters, the Hartford said its wealth management business stood out, with life insurance sales and retirement plan deposits both rising.

Written premiums rose in the commercial markets unit on higher pricing and better retention, while they fell slightly in the consumer unit.