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AXIS reports lower 2011 profits in wake of catastrophe losses


PEMBROKE, Bermuda—AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd.'s 2011 profits plummeted to $9.4 million from nearly $820 million in 2010 as catastrophe losses mounted for the specialty insurer and reinsurer.

The Pembroke, Bermuda-based group reported a combined ratio of 112.3% last year compared with 88.7% in 2010.

AXIS' gross written premiums, however, grew 9.2% in 2011 to $4.09 billion. Its insurance business grew 10.7%, with $2.12 billion in gross written premiums, and its reinsurance business grew 7.6% to $1.97 billion.

For the 2011 fourth quarter, AXIS reported $80.1 million in profits, compared with $264.3 million in the same period a year earlier. Gross written premiums for the quarter reached $666.5 million, an increase of 5% from the year-earlier period.

Its fourth quarter combined ratio was 100.5%, deteriorating from 85.6% during the same period a year earlier.

“An extraordinary series of costly natural disasters, which are estimated to have cost our industry over $100 billion, took center stage in 2011,” said John Charman, president and CEO of AXIS, in a statement.

In addition, insurance pricing continues to be soft and interest rates remain low, “which made low-risk investment income difficult to achieve,” he said.

Fellow Bermuda underwriters Aspen Insurance Holdings Ltd. and PartnerRe Ltd. also reported catastrophe-battered results this week.

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