UPDATE 2-Chubb lowers earnings forecast as insurance payouts rise

Thu Jul 24, 2014 6:12pm EDT

* Expects earnings of $6.75-$6.95/shr vs est of $7.34

* Net profit down 14 pct to $499 mln

* Net written premiums up about 4 pct to $3.22 bln

* Shares fall about 3.5 pct (Adds comments from conference call)

By Avik Das

July 24 (Reuters) - Chubb Corp lowered its full-year earnings forecast after severe weather in the United States and an unusually high number of fires led to bigger insurance payouts in the second quarter.

The company's shares fell 3.5 percent in extended trading.

The property and casualty insurer said it now expects to earn about $6.75-$6.95 per share in 2014, below its earlier forecast of $7.10-$7.40.

Analysts on average were expecting $7.34 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The outlook for the remainder of the year was unchanged.

"We reduced our guidance primarily because of our operating results in the first half of this year," a Chubb executive said on a post-earnings call.

Chubb's second-quarter profit also missed estimates.

"Our results this quarter were adversely impacted by catastrophe and non-catastrophe losses related to severe weather in the United States as well as an unusually high level of homeowners' and commercial fire losses," CEO John Finnegan said.

Net profit fell about 14 percent to $499 million, or $2.03 per share, for the second quarter ended June 30, from $579 million, or $2.21 per share, a year earlier.

Losses and loss expenses widened 5.8 percent to $1.79 billion.

"The losses are unlikely to move the needle on pricing in the space, given the recent lack of large-scale catastrophes," Macquarie Securities analyst Amit Kumar said.

On an operating basis, the Warren, New Jersey-based insurer earned $1.70 per share, below the $1.90 analysts expected.

Rival Travelers Cos Inc also reported a steeper-than-expected fall in quarterly operating profit, hurt by bigger catastrophe losses and a slowing pace of premium rate increases.

Chubb's net written premiums rose about 4 percent to $3.22 billion.

Its combined loss-and-expense ratio fell to 90 percent from 88.8 percent. The ratio, an indicator of the total claims and expenses incurred over net earned premiums, crossing 100 percent shows the company has an underwriting loss.

Shares of Chubb closed at $92.76 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Editing by Don Sebastian, Robin Paxton and Joyjeet Das)

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