UPDATE 1-CNA Financial posts Q4 profit vs loss

Mon Feb 8, 2010 7:14am EST

* Q4 EPS $0.81 vs shr/loss $1.31 last year

* Investment income rise, catastrophe losses drop

Feb 8 (Reuters) - CNA Financial Corp (CNA.N), whose majority owner is Loews Corp (L.N), swung to a fourth-quarter profit, helped by higher net investment income and lower catastrophe losses.

The property and casualty insurer reported net income of $246 million, or 81 cents a share, compared with a loss of $336 million, or $1.31 a share, last year.

Operating income available to stockholders was $197 million, or 63 cents a share.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 73 cents a share, excluding items, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company said investment income improved primarily due to the improvement in limited partnership investments.

Combined ratio for property and casualty segment improved to 90.3 percent from 89.1 percent last year.

Shares of the Chicago-based company closed at $23.58 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Abhinav Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)