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Loews Profit Rises Sharply on Improved Insurance, Drilling Results

Loews, the conglomerate run by the Tisch family, reported a nearly six-fold increase in fourth-quarter profit, helped by improved results at its insurance and drilling units.

Net income at New York-based Loews, whose businesses include financial, tobacco, energy, hotel and watch-making companies, rose to $746.5 million from $127.6 million a year earlier.

Profit attributable to Loews shareholders rose to $609.4 million, or $1.11 a share, from $46 million, or 8 cents a share.

Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates on average forecast profit of 95 cents a share.

Revenue rose 19% to $4.88 billion.

Results benefited as Chicago-based CNA Financial, the No. 7 U.S. commercial insurer and Loews' largest unit, reported a profit of $329 million, or $1.22 a share.

That compared with a year-earlier loss of $217 million, or 92 cents, when CNA took a charge to exit several reinsurance contracts and was hurt by claims related to Hurricane Wilma.

CNA operating profit totaled $1.32 a share. Analysts on average expected profit of $1.01 a share. The insurer used 99% of property and casualty premium income for claims, down from 121.4%. Loews owns 89% of CNA.

Meanwhile, Houston-based Diamond Offshore Drilling, in which Loews has a 54% stake, last Thursday said quarterly profit doubled to $221.4 million, or $1.60 a share, helped by higher drilling revenue.

CIGARETTE SALES RISE

Net income at Carolina Group, a tracking stock for the Lorillard tobacco unit, rose 15% to $220 million. Profit attributable to Carolina shareholders was $1.26 a share, up from $1.11. Analysts expected $1.13.

Carolina net sales rose 2% to $936.7 million.

Excluding excise taxes, sales totaled $764.6 million. Lorillard brands include Newport, Kent and True.

Profit fell at Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, in which Loews owns an 80% stake, while Loews Hotels posted a $3.8 million profit. Loews also owns watchmaker Bulova.

Loews is run by Chief Executive James Tisch and Co-Chairmen Andrew Tisch and Jonathan Tisch. Andrew and James Tisch's late father, Laurence Tisch, and Jonathan Tisch's late father, Preston Robert Tisch, were also Loews chairmen.