Specialty insurer Assurant's 2nd-qtr profit tops estimates

July 25 Wed Jul 25, 2012 5:23pm EDT

July 25 (Reuters) - Assurant Inc's quarterly operating income more-than-doubled as strong premium growth in the specialty insurer's core businesses offset continued weakness in its health insurance unit.

Second-quarter net income rose marginally to $169.2 million, or $1.94 per share, from $165 million, or $1.67 per share, a year earlier.

Net operating income more than doubled to $1.81 per share from 76 cents per share a year earlier.

Analysts on average were expecting the company to earn $1.39 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net earned premiums, fees and other income in Assurant Solutions segment rose 6 percent to $721.7 million, reflecting a growth in international and domestic premiums.

Assurant's health insurance segment, however, was hurt by lower sales for the second straight quarter and earned premiums fell 5 percent in the segment.

Net investment income for the company, which raised its dividend and approved a new $600 million buyback during the quarter, was up 15 percent at $199.3 million for the quarter.

Shares of the company, which started off as a disability insurer about 120 years ago, have fallen 16 percent in the last three months.

They closed at $33.31 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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