Catastrophes deliver more losses to Baldwin & Lyons

Baldwin & Lyons Inc. blamed “unprecedented” catastrophies and a bad investment climate Thursday morning after the company badly missed Wall Street expectations.

The Indianapolis-based auto and trucking fleet insurer lost $13 million, or 87 cents per share, in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with profit of $9.2 million, or 62 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Excluding investment losses, Baldwin would have lost only $1.6 million, or 11 cents per share, in the quarter. An analyst who follows Baldwin expected the company to earn 38 cents per share on that basis.

Baldwin paid for significant damage its policyholders sustained from Hurricane Irene, which ravaged the East Coast in August, and other storms in the United States, as well as continuing claims from the March earthquake in Japan. In October, Baldwin estimated these losses totaled $9.5 million in the third quarter.

For the year, catastrophes have cost Baldwin $37 million, after taxes credits, compared with after-tax catastrophic losses of $13 million during the first nine months of 2010.

The company’s common stock plunged to a low of $20.55 per share after Hurrican Irene, but it has since recovered 14 percent, to close Wednesday at $23.48 per share.

Revenue for Baldwin’s third quarter plummeted 30 percent, to $47.2 million, reflecting investment losses of more than $17 million. One silver lining in the quarter was that Baldwin wrote 14 percent more in insurance premiums than it did in the same quarter last year.

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