Insurer Beazley Posts Record Profit in 2006

Lloyd's of London insurer Beazley Goup made record pretax profit in 2006, helped by low catastrophe claims and good investment returns, it said on Wednesday.

Beazley made pretax profits of 86.8 million pounds ($167.2 million) in 2006, above an analyst average forecast of 81.6 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Its 2005 profit, hit by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, was 16.1 million pounds.

The company, which announced a dividend of 4.8 pence per share, up from 2005's payout of 4.0p, said it viewed 2007 positively.

Beazley's combined ratio, the industry benchmark performance figure that measures costs and claims as a percentage of premiums, fell to 86% from 105% in 2005. A figure below 100 means the company has made an underwriting profit.

Beazley shares -- which closed at 147/1-2 pence on Tuesday, valuing the firm at 533 million pounds -- have outperformed the FTSE non-life insurance index by nearly 25% percent since the start of 2006, according to Reuters data.