November 7, 2012 / 4:43 PM / in 5 years

Canada's Intact Financial shares gain as results top estimates

* Op EPS C$0.89 vs est C$0.56

* Lower investment gains hurt profit

* Premiums driven by acquisitions

* Shares rise 3 pct

TORONTO, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Intact Financial Corp said on Wednesday its quarterly net profit fell 5 percent as higher claims activity and lower investment gains more than offset a sharp rise in premiums.

However, the company’s shares rose 3.1 percent as the result topped analysts’ estimates.

The Canadian property and casualty insurer earned C$96 million ($96.50 million), or 70 Canadian cents a share, in the third quarter that ended Sept. 30. That was down from a profit of C$101 million, or 87 Canadian cents a share, a year earlier.

On an operating basis, the company earned 89 Canadian cents a share, well ahead of the profit of 56 Canadian cents a share expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Toronto-based Intact, Canada’s largest P&C insurer, is the former Canadian insurance arm of Dutch financial group ING Groep . Its main brands are Belair Direct and Grey Power.

Direct premiums written surged 44 percent to C$1.8 billion, helped by last year’s acquisition of the Canadian arm of AXA Group and its C$530 million acquisition of Jevco Insurance, which closed late in the third quarter.

The surge in net premiums was partially offset by a jump in net claims of 49 percent to C$1.1 billion due to a series of storms in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, the company said.

Net investment gains fell to C$16 million from C$78 million.

The company’s shares, which have climbed 6.7 percent so far this year, were up C$1.86 at C$62.45 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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