Allstate posts lower profit, raises dividend

Wed Feb 6, 2013 5:07pm EST

(Reuters) - Home and auto insurer Allstate Corp's (ALL.N) quarterly profit fell 45 percent, hurt by losses from superstorm Sandy, but the company raised its quarterly dividend and announced a new $1 billion share buyback program.

Allstate, the largest publicly traded home and auto insurer in the United States, raised its dividend to 25 cents per share from 22 cents.

The new share repurchase program will be implemented in conjunction with another $1 billion program announced in December, which is to be funded with hybrid debt.

Catastrophe losses for the fourth quarter were $1.06 billion, compared with $66 million in the year-earlier quarter, primarily due to the impact of superstorm Sandy.

Sandy, which struck the northeast United States on October 29, is expected to be the second-costliest catastrophe in the country's history, with insured loss estimates as high as $25 billion. The costliest catastrophe was Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Allstate's net income fell to $394 million, or 81 cents per share, in the quarter ended December 31 from $712 million, or $1.40 per share, a year earlier.

On an operating basis, it earned 59 cents per share.

The company's shares, which have risen 14 percent in the past three months, were up 3 percent in trading after the bell. They closed at $44.31 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Aman Shah in Bangalore; Editing by Anthony Kurian, Maju Samuel)

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