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James River’s top line rockets

James River Group Holdings Ltd's profits surged in the fourth quarter, propelled by a 60 per cent growth in gross premiums written.

The Bermudian re/insurer recorded net income of $25.7 million for the three months ended December 31 and a record $74.5 million for the full year 2016.

Operating earnings per share totalled 77 cents surpassing the 65 cents forecast of analysts tracked by Yahoo Finance.

The company's shares rose more than 3 per cent in New York Stock Exchange trading yesterday in response to the Wednesday night release of the results.

During the fourth quarter gross premiums rose to $173.5 million from $108.7 million in the corresponding period in 2015.

The biggest contributing factor was the specialty admitted insurance segment, which wrote $63.2 million in premiums, more than double the prior-year quarter's total.

James Rivers' largest segment is excess and surplus lines, in which premium grew nearly 25 per cent to $91.4 million.

It's casualty reinsurance unit, which is based at the company's head office in Wellesley House on Pitts Bay Road, saw gross premiums grow by 207 per cent from the previous year to $18.8 million.

For the full year, gross premiums written grew 28.9 per cent to $737.4 million, while the combined ratio — the proportion of premium dollars spent on claims and expenses was 94.3 per cent.

Net operating income per share for 2016 was $2.39, up from $2.08 in 2015.

J. Adam Abram, chairman and chief executive officer of James River Group, said: “Our team continues to drive strong risk adjusted returns for our shareholders. Our full year 14.6 per cent adjusted operating return on tangible equity and 94.3 per cent combined ratio demonstrate the strength of our franchise. We believe we are well positioned for continued success in 2017.”

In its guidance for 2017, the company said it expected to generate a 12 per cent or better operating return on average tangible equity for the year and a combined ratio of between 92 per cent and 95 per cent.

Strong quarter: J Adam Abram, James River's CEO

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Published February 17, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 16, 2017 at 11:40 pm)

James River’s top line rockets

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