Loews' Results Up on Strength at Insurance, Oil Drilling Units

Loews said first-quarter profit rose 42%, topping Wall Street forecasts, helped by better-than-expected results from its insurance, tobacco and oil drilling units.

Net income at the New York-based conglomerate, which is run by the billionaire Tisch family, rose to $768.3 million from $541 million a year earlier.

Profit attributable to Loews shareholders rose to $650.7 million, or $1.20 a share, from $473.4 million, or 85 cents.

Excluding investment gains and losses, profit totaled $1.06 a share, topping analysts' average forecast of 96 cents, according to Thomson Financial. Revenue rose 10% to $4.66 billion.

Loews' businesses include financial, tobacco, energy, hotel and watch-making companies.

Chicago-based CNA Financial , the No. 7 U.S. commercial insurer and Loews' largest unit, said profit rose 29% to $296 million, or $1.09 a share, from $229 million, or 82 cents, a year earlier.

Excluding investments, operating profit totaled $307 million, or $1.13 a share, CNA said. Analysts on average forecast $1.05. CNA used 95.1% of property and casualty premium income for claims, down from 96.9%.

Loews owns 89% of CNA. Last Wednesday, CNA set a 10 cents a share quarterly dividend, its first dividend in more than 30 years.

Net income at the Lorillard tobacco unit rose 26% to $188.7 million. Profit attributable to shareholders of Carolina Group, a tracking stock for Lorillard, rose
to $1.08 a share from 86 cents. Analysts expected 97 cents.

Lorillard net sales rose 7% to $913 million. Results benefited from a December price increase and lower marketing costs. Lorillard brands include Newport, Kent and True.

Other Units

Houston-based Diamond Offshore Drilling last Thursday reported a quarterly profit of $224.2 million, or $1.64 a share, topping the average $1.47 forecast. Loews has a 51% stake in the unit.

Profit rose 15% to $80.2 million at Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, in which Loews owns a 75% stake, while Loews Hotels posted a $10.9 million profit. Loews also owns watchmaker Bulova.

Loews is run by 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.