UPDATE 2-Allstate profit jumps 49 pct as costs fall, premiums rise
* Q2 operating earnings per share $1.01 vs est of $0.70
* Catastrophe losses up 44.7 pct to $936 mln
* Revenue up about 1 pct to $8.87 bln
* Shares up 2.6 pct after the bell (Adds CEO quotes)
By Avik Das
July 30 (Reuters) - Allstate Corp, the largest publicly traded home and auto insurer in the United States, reported a 49 percent jump in quarterly profit as costs fell and the company took in more premiums.
The company's shares rose 2.6 percent after the bell.
Home insurance policies would continue to see an increase in pricing while auto-pricing environment has been "relatively benign" this year, Chief Executive Thomas Wilson said.
"People are not as price-sensitive in homeowners (business) as they are in auto insurance," he said adding that the company preferred small and frequent rate increase rather than large and infrequent ones.
The company has increased insurance premiums aggressively in the last few years without any significant loss to its share of the highly competitive home and auto insurance markets.
Net income available to common shareholders rose to $645 million, or $1.39 per share, for the second quarter ended June 30, from $434 million, or 92 cents per share, a year earlier.
The company repaid $480 million of debt in the year-ago quarter.
On an operating basis, Allstate reported earnings of $1.01 per share.
Consolidated revenue rose less than 1 percent to $8.87 billion.
Analysts on average expected earnings of 70 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Premiums earned at Allstate's property-liability division rose about 5 percent to $7.20 billion.
Allstate's combined ratio for its homeowners business rose to 98.6 percent in the second quarter from 95.2 percent in the year earlier quarter.
Catastrophe losses jumped 44.7 percent to $936 million during the quarter.
Severe storms pounded parts of the central United States in early June, producing baseball-sized hail. There were also several tornado touchdowns and other dangerous wind storms.
Rivals Travelers Cos Inc and Chubb Corp reported lower-than-expected profit last week after being hit by rising claims.
Allstate's shares closed at $56.89 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
The stock had gained about 4.3 percent since the beginning of the year to Wednesday's close, compared to a 2 percent fall in the S&P 500 Property & Casualty Insurance Index. (Reporting by Avik Das in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian and Sriraj Kalluvila)