Los Angeles Business Journal

Investment Losses Hurt Mercury General’s Quarter

By Deborah Crowe Originally published October 31, 2011 at 10:22 a.m., updated October 31, 2011 at 4:31 p.m.

Mercury General Corp. on Monday reported a loss in the third quarter, largely due to investment losses, but its adjusted results were better than analysts expected.

The Los Angeles auto and home insurance company reported a net loss of $3.78 million (-7 cents per share), compared with net income of $96.8 million ($1.77) in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue fell 20 percent to less than $616 million, as net premiums written rose only 1.2 percent to $662 million. The quarter included realized investment losses of $43.5 million (-79 cents). Mercury also recorded $4 million in pre-tax losses related to Hurricane Irene claims earlier this year.

Excluding the losses, the company had adjusted per-share profit of 72 cents. Analysts surveyed by Capital IQ on average expected an adjusted profit of 69 cents per share on more than $664 million in revenue.

The company's combined ratio for the quarter was 98.3 percent, up from 98 percent a year earlier. A ratio above 100 means that for every premium dollar taken in, more than a dollar went to cover claims and other expenses.

Mercury shares closed down 88 cents, or 2 percent to $43.30 on the New York Stock Exchange.