* Q2 oper EPS 23 cents vs Wall Street avg estimate 46 cents
* $587 mln loss on debt retirement eats into results
* Had previously warned of reserve additions
Aug 1 (Reuters) - Insurer The Hartford Financial Services Group posted a loss for the second quarter on the cost of retiring debt, and operating earnings were far lower than expected on reserve strengthening and other accounting items.
The Hartford is in the middle of a restructuring designed to more closely focus the company on its property insurance business. On Tuesday, it struck a deal to sell its Woodbury Financial Services brokerage unit to AIG.
The Hartford reported a loss of $101 million, or 26 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $33 million or 5 cents per share.
On an operating basis it earned 23 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S on average expected core earnings of 46 cents per share.
The company said it recorded a loss of $587 million in the quarter to extinguish debt, accounting for the net loss.
The Hartford had warned in mid-July it would record pretax disaster losses of up to $300 million and reserve increases of $55 million, mostly related to asbestos. Both were much less than what it recorded a year ago.