UPDATE 1-RenaissanceRe Holdings Q4 profit trumps market

Tue Feb 9, 2010 5:29pm EST

* Q4 oper. EPS $2.82 vs est $2.50

* Investment income boosts results

* Expenses down 7 pct

Feb 9 (Reuters) - RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd (RNR.N), a Bermuda reinsurer, reported quarterly profit above Wall Street estimates, helped by strong net investment income.

Net income for the fourth quarter was $211.8 million, or $3.38 a share, compared with net loss of $55.2 million, or 91 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Operating income, a measure commonly used by analysts, rose to $177.7 million, or $2.82 a share, compared with $28.7 million, or 47 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Analysts on average expected the company to earn $2.50 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"These earnings are a result of a relatively low level of insured catastrophe losses, favorable development on prior -year reserves and solid investment results," Chief Executive Neill Currie said in a statement.

Net investment income for the quarter was $60.7 million, compared with an investment loss of $82.7 million in the year-ago period.

"We are pleased with the results of our January 1 renewals and have constructed an attractive portfolio of business for 2010," the CEO said.

As a reinsurer, RenaissanceRe provides backup coverage to property insurers when catastrophes such as hurricanes strike.

Shares of the company closed at $52.26 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The stock has gained 33 percent in value since touching a low of $39.37 in February last year. (Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)