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UPDATE 1-Chubb raises profit forecast as net earned premiums rise

Thursday, 24 Oct 2013 | 5:02 PM ET

* Expects FY earnings $7.90-$8.00/shr vs est of $7.65

* Q3 operating earnings of $2.06/shr vs est of $1.88

* Q3 net earned premiums rise 2 pct to $3.02 bln

* Finnegan to remain CEO until 2016

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Property and casualty insurer Chubb Corp raised its earnings forecast for the full year after reporting a better-than-expected rise in quarterly profit, underpinned by higher rates and strong underwriting across all its businesses.

Chubb raised its earnings forecast to $7.90-$8.00 per share from $7.30-$7.50. Analysts on average expected the company to earn $7.65, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Chubb also said John Finnegan, who has been at the helm since 2002, will remain chief executive until 2016 rather than 2014, departing from its policy of retiring senior executives at the age of 65.

Chubb's net profit rose to $541 million, or $2.10 per share, for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $533 million, or $1.98 per share, a year earlier.

On an operating basis, Chubb earned $2.06 per share, well above the analysts' average estimates of $1.88 per share.

Net earned premiums rose about 2 percent to $3.02 billion.

Margins of U.S. insurers have benefited from improved pricing after almost half a decade of softness.

The combined loss and expense ratio improved to 85.7 percent from 86.3 percent a year earlier due to lower claims.

The combined ratio is an indicator of the total claims and expenses incurred over net earned premiums. A ratio over 100 percent shows that the company has an underwriting loss.

Catastrophe losses before tax, however, rose to $92 million in the third quarter from $17 million a year earlier.

According to UBS, U.S. insured catastrophe losses in the quarter were about $2 billion, almost the same as a year earlier and well below the 10-year average of $11 billion.

Low interest rates continued to chip away at Chubb's net investment income, which fell about 6 percent to $342 million.

Rival Travelers Co Inc also reported better-than-expected results earlier this week, helped by rising rates and low claims.

Shares of the Warren, New Jersey-based insurer, which has a market value of about $24 billion, closed at $92.94 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

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