UPDATE 1-AmTrust Financial Q1 oper profit beats Street

Mon May 3, 2010 7:45am EDT

* Q1 oper EPS $0.51 vs est $0.49

* Q1 EPS $0.53 vs $0.40 last yr

* Q1 net earned premiums up 11.8 pct to $148.1 mln

* Combined ratio 80.3 pct vs 79.7 pct last year

May 3 (Reuters) - Property and casualty insurer AmTrust Financial Services Inc (AFSI.O) reported a quarterly profit above market view, helped by a rise in net earned premiums.

For the first quarter, net income was $31.9 million, or 53 cents a share, compared with $24.2 million, or 40 cents a share, a year ago.

On an operating basis -- which typically excludes any investment gains and losses -- the company posted earnings of 51 cents a share.

Analysts on average were looking for a profit of 49 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net earned premiums rose 11.8 percent to $148.1 million.

AmTrust said the combined ratio was 80.3 percent during the quarter, up from 79.7 percent last year.

Combined ratio is the percentage of premiums an insurer has to pay out in claims and expenses. A figure over 100 indicates that underwriting was unprofitable.

Shares of the company closed at $13.63 Friday on Nasdaq. (Reporting by Brenton Cordeiro in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri)