Intact Financial shares slide as results miss estimates

Wed May 8, 2013 11:44am EDT
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* Profit misses estimates, shares down 2 pct

* Higher claims offsets premium growth

* Insurer to buy back up to 5 pct of shares

* Sees no material margin impact from Ontario rate plan

By Cameron French

TORONTO, May 8 (Reuters) - Intact Financial Corp said on Wednesday its first-quarter profit was essentially unchanged from the year-before period, missing expectations, as a rise in winter-related insurance claims offset stronger premiums.

Shares of Canada's largest property and casualty insurer hit a 14-month low following the release of its results. By mid-morning the stock was down 2 percent at C$58.99, the weakest performance among Toronto-listed financial companies.

Net profit for the quarter ended March 31 was C$174 million ($173.15 million), or C$1.27 a share. That compared with a profit of C$173 million, or C$1.30 a share, in the year-before period.

On an operating basis, the Toronto-based company earned C$1.27 a share, shy of the profit of C$1.32 a share expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.   Continued...