* Q4 operating profit C$1.05 per share vs est C$1.26
* Underwriting profit halved by winter storm in Dec
* Shares down 1.1 percent
By Cameron French
TORONTO, Feb 5 Intact Financial Corp,
Canada's largest property and casualty insurer, reported a
larger-than-expected drop in fourth-quarter profit as a winter
ice storm hurt underwriting results.
Shares of Intact, which also raised its quarterly dividend
by 9 percent, fell 1.1 percent on the results.
Toronto-based Intact said net income fell to C$107 million
($97 million), or 77 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter
ended Dec. 31, from C$177 million, or C$1.29 per share, a year
On an operating basis, Intact earned C$1.05 per share, which
fell short of analysts' estimates for C$1.26 a share.
Underwriting profit fell by more than half to C$67 million,
due largely to a major ice storm that blanketed central and
Atlantic Canada in December, causing widespread damage, power
failures and disruptions to travel and business.
Weather-related catastrophe losses for the quarter amounted
to C$55 million, capping off a tough year that saw Canadian
insurers pay out a total of C$3.2 billion for weather-related
losses, due mainly to June floods that shut down the oil
industry hub of Calgary, Alberta.
For the year, Intact said catastrophe losses amounted to
C$530 million before taxes.
The company said it expects industry premiums will grow at a
low single-digit rate, and that mandated auto premiums
reductions in the province of Ontario "will be largely
commensurate with additional cost reduction measures and, as
such, (Intact) does not foresee material deterioration in
In last year's Ontario budget, the provincial Liberal
government pledged to cut auto insurance rates by 15 percent
over two years.
The company's combined ratio was 96.3 percent, compared with
92.1 percent a year earlier. A ratio below 100 percent means the
company is taking in more from premiums than it is paying out in
claims and expenses.
Intact raised its dividend by 9 percent to 48 Canadian cents
Its shares, which touched an all-time high of C$69.95 in
January, were down 77 Canadian cents at C$66.74 on the Toronto