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Chubb reports 4th-quarter profit decline, OKs $1.2B share buyback


WARREN, N.J. (Reuters)—Chubb Corp. reported a smaller profit for the fourth quarter on higher catastrophe losses and lower investment income, and the property insurer approved a new $1.2 billion share repurchase program.

Chubb posted a net profit of $452 million, or $1.60 per share, compared with a profit of $620 million, or $2.02 per share, a year ago.

On an operating basis, Chubb earned $1.63 per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S on average expected Chubb to earn $1.60 per share.

Losses and loss expense in the quarter rose to $1.74 billion.

For 2012, Chubb said it is expecting operating earnings of $5.30 to $5.70 per share. Analysts are expecting earnings of $5.96 per share.

The company also said rates were rising on insurance contracts after years of weakness.

"We secured an average renewal rate increase of 6 percent in our U.S. standard commercial business, and average renewal rates in our U.S. professional liability business turned positive for the first time in two years," Chief Executive John Finnegan said in a statement.

Chubb's results mirror Dow component Travelers Cos. Inc., which reported similar experiences earlier this week.

Shares of the company closed at $70.35 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.