November 1, 2012 / 10:00 PM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-The Hartford profit rises on lower catastrophe losses

* Q3 oper EPS $0.78 vs est $0.83

* Core earnings in P&C unit nearly doubles to $160 mln

Nov 1 (Reuters) - Insurer The Hartford Financial Services Group reported a rise in third-quarter profit, driven by lower catastrophe losses and improved pricing, but core earnings came in below Wall Street expectations.

The Hartford is in the middle of a restructuring designed to focus more closely on its property insurance business.

In the past quarter, it has completed the sale of its Individual Life, Retirement Plans and Woodbury Financial Services.

“These transactions are expected to generate an approximately $2.2 billion statutory capital benefit,” McGee said in a statement.

Net income jumped to $401 million, or 83 cents per share, from $60 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an operating basis, it earned 78 cents per share.

Analysts on average were expecting Hartford to earn 83 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Core earnings at the company’s property & casualty (P&C) unit almost doubled to $160 million.

The company benefitted from higher renewal pricing in commercial, personal auto and homeowners, and also saw higher retention of clients in all three lines, CEO McGee said.

P&C combined ratio, the percentage of premium revenue an insurer has to pay out in claims, improved to 97.5 percent from 99.4 percent last year.

The Hartford shares closed at $21.92 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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