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Aspen hikes dividend nearly 6%

Aspen Insurance Holdings yesterday posted a profit after tax of $91.8 million, or $1.15 diluted net income per share, for the first quarter of 2013.

The Bermuda re/insurer announced a 5.9 percent increase to its dividend on ordinary shares, payable on May 28 to the holders of record as of the close of trading on May 10.

The Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend on Aspen’s ordinary shares of $0.18 per ordinary share compared to the previous quarterly dividend of $0.17 per ordinary share.

Aspen CEO Chris O’Kane commented in a statement, “We delivered good operating results in the first quarter, with an improvement in the combined ratios in both Reinsurance and Insurance, favourable prior-year reserve development and continued traction in our US. Insurance operations.

“We also made significant progress on our three strategic pillars — business portfolio optimisation, efficient capital management and enhancing investment return — with actions taken to reduce our catastrophe-exposed US.

“Property insurance book, $210 million in share repurchases and a $200 million increase in the equity component of our investment portfolio.

“We remain intensely focused on executing our strategic plan and driving increased profitability.”

Gross written premiums decreased overall by 1 percent to $773.4 million in the quarter ended March 31, from the first quarter of 2012.

This reflects a decline in premiums in the reinsurance segment which was partially offset by an 8.4 percent increase in the insurance segment

It saw a combined ratio of 90.1 percent for the first quarter of 2013.

This is compared with a combined ratio of 93.8 percent or 90.1 percent excluding catastrophes for the first quarter of 2012

Aspen said its investment portfolio continues to be comprised primarily of high quality fixed income securities with an average credit quality of “AA”.

Net investment income for the first quarter of 2013 was $48.3 million.

Primarily as a result of Aspen’s share repurchase programme, total shareholders’ equity decreased by $148.8 million in the quarter to $3.3 billion at March 31, 2013.

In conjunction with a $150 million Accelerated Share Repurchase (“ASR”) agreement announced on February 26, Aspen said approximately 3.35 million ordinary shares were delivered under the ASR in February 2013, and Aspen may receive additional ordinary shares at the maturity of the ASR, or Aspen may be obligated to make a delivery of shares, or a payment of cash, at Aspen’s election.

In addition, during the first quarter of 2013, Aspen repurchased 1.68 million ordinary shares in the open market at an average price of $34.63 per share for a total cost of $58.2 million.

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Published April 25, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 24, 2013 at 8:04 pm)

Aspen hikes dividend nearly 6%

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