Fairfax Financial quarterly loss widens

Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:00pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Fairfax Financial Holdings FFH.TO, the property and casualty insurer run by investment guru Prem Watsa, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter loss widened by 56 percent due to catastrophe claims and higher investment losses.

The Toronto-based company posted a loss of $771.5 million, or $38.47 a share, in the fourth quarter of 2011. That compared with a year-before loss of $494.4 million, or $24.77 a share.

Since taking over the company in 1985, Watsa has build a reputation as a shrewd contrarian investor by moves such as betting against the U.S. housing market in the last decade and reaping billions when the market collapsed.

Recently, he has taken a substantial position in Research In Motion RIM.TO and was appointed to the board last month as part of a front office shakeup in which co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stepped down.

(Reporting By Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson)