Los Angeles Business Journal

Mercury General Swings to Profit

By Deborah Crowe Monday, February 6, 2012

Mercury General Corp. moved to a profit in the fourth quarter as the homeowner and auto insurance company said its revenue grew more than expected and losses were less.

The Los Angeles company on Monday reported net income of $79.5 million ($1.45 a share), compared with a net loss of $23.4 million (-43 cents) in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue rose 14 percent to more than $749 million. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average had expected earnings of 67 cents a share on revenue of $682 million.

Net premiums written rose 0.2 percent. The combined ratio, which is the percentage of premiums spent on claims and expenses, declined to 99.4 percent compared with 109.9 percent a year earlier. Ratios under 100 percent are considered healthier.

The company took $10 million of pre-tax losses as a result of severe windstorms in California, but that was less than year-earlier losses related to severe rainstorms in California and homeowner sinkhole claims in Florida.

Shares closed down $1.66, or 3.7 percent, to $43.35 on the New York Stock Exchange.