UPDATE 1-State Auto Financial posts Q4 profit

Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:33am EST

* Sees tempered growth for personal lines in 2010

* Q4 EPS $0.36 vs $0.02 loss/shr in prior yr

* Q4 EPS from operations $0.36 vs $0.53 yr ago

* Q4 combined ratio 98.4 pct, from 96 pct last yr

Feb 18 (Reuters) - State Auto Financial Corp (STFC.O), a regional property and casualty insurance holding company, posted a quarterly profit, helped by an increase in earned premiums.

However, the company said it expected growth in its personal lines segment to be tempered in 2010.

Net income for the fourth quarter was $14.4 million, or 36 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $600,000 or 2 cents a share, last year

However, earnings from operations fell to 36 cents a share, from 53 cents a year earlier.

Analysts on average were looking for a profit of 36 cents a share, before items, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue rose 18 percent to $321.5 million. Earned premiums were $299.6 million, up 5 percent from a year ago.

Combined ratio -- the percentage of premiums an insurer has to pay out in claims and expenses -- was 98.4 percent, up from 96 percent last year. A figure over 100 indicates that underwriting was unprofitable. Shares of the company closed at $16.28 Wednesday on Nasdaq.

For all the alerts, please double-click [ID:nWNAB8697] (Reporting by Brenton Cordeiro in Bangalore; Editing by Jarshad Kakkrakandy)

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