Horace Mann Educators Corp. posted strong fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday that surpassed Wall Street estimates because of lower catastrophic claims. The company’s stock shot up nearly 7 percent.
By midday trading on Wednesday, the Springfield, Ill.-based educators’ insurance company was one of the top 10 percentage gainers on New York Stock Exchange.
Horace Mann reported net income of $33.2 million, or 80 cents per diluted share, more than double the $15.2 million, or 36 cents per share, reported in the same quarter last year.
Revenues jumped 4 percent to $247.6 million from $238.1 million.
“While fourth-quarter results exceeded our expectations and were significantly better than a year ago, full year operating EPS… was adversely affected by industry-wide catastrophe loses,” explained President and CEO Pete Heckman.
Earnings increased in all of the company’s segments including property, annuities and life insurance, Heckman said.
For all of 2011, Horace Mann’s annual income dropped 12.9 percent to $70.5 million, or $1.70 per diluted share, from $80.9 million, or $1.97 per share.
Revenues rose nearly 2.5 percent to $998.3 million from $974.8 million.
During a conference call to investors, company executives said they would like to see improved growth in the number of automotive policies written.
“For the year, written premiums declined three and a half percent for auto,” said Tom Wilkinson, executive vice president for property and casualty. “So far we have implemented auto new business growth initiatives in almost 80 percent of the country.”
Insurance industry profits have suffered last year as a result of natural disasters.
In the U.S., insured losses reached $35.9 billion in 2011. Those losses arose from 171 catastrophe events, which is the fifth highest year on record, according to a report released by the Insurance Information Institute of New York.
Shares of Horace Mann closed at $17.20, up $1.07 or about 7 percent.