Catlin survives catastrophes to boost its profit

INSURER Catlin announced strong profits for the first half of 2012 yesterday, mainly thanks to the absence of any natural catastrophe claims during the period.

Pre-tax profits at the group hit $231m (£148m) for the six months to 30 June, against a loss of $201m for the same period last year.

This beat analysts’s expectations, pushing the firm’s share price up 2.6 per cent to close at 443.3p.

“Our business continues to grow, with the London underwriting hub producing meaningful growth for the first time in five years along with a good performance from the rest of the business,” said chief executive Stephen Catlin.

He also confirmed that his business is seeking to expand its operations in growing markets, such as Latin America and China.

The FTSE 250 company said it took advantage of reduced competition to push through an average price rise of five per cent as its financially weaker rivals wrote less business.

Aside from growth at its Lloyd’s of London business, other highlights include the firm’s US division, which grew like-for-like gross premiums by 10 per cent over the period and a 14 per cent increase in business written in the Energy and Marine sector.

Catlin said it will increase the firm’s interim dividend by five per cent to 9.5p.