February 24, 2009 / 9:37 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Allstate cuts dividend 51 pct, ends 14-yr string

NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Allstate Corp (ALL.N) said on Tuesday it cut its common stock dividend 51 percent, ending 14 straight years of increases, after investment losses caused a $1.13 billion fourth-quarter loss for the nation’s largest publicly-traded home and auto insurer.

The Northbrook, Illinois-based company lowered its quarterly payout to 20 cents per share from 41 cents. It joins a growing list of U.S. financial companies to lower their payouts since the economy went into recession.

“In light of recent earnings, Allstate has decided to reduce our dividend for this quarter to a level we believe puts Allstate’s payout ratio in line with our peers,” Chief Executive Thomas Wilson said in a statement.

He said the lower payout will preserve capital, and help Allstate “manage through these turbulent times.”

The lowered payout should allow Allstate to save close to $450 million a year, according to Reuters data. The dividend is payable on April to shareholders of record as of March 13.

Allstate shares closed Tuesday up $1.65, or 9.7 percent, at $18.64 on the New York Stock Exchange. They were little changed after-hours. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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