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Argo Group Q4 net incomes declines

Argo Group International Holdings, a Bermuda-based underwriter of specialty insurance and reinsurance products, has reported a net income of $12.8m or $0.44 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to $41m, or $1.33 per diluted share for the same period of 2009.

Pre-tax income before net realized investment and other gains and losses and foreign currency exchange gains and losses, was $18.2m for the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to $39.4m in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Total revenue was $316.5m for the fourth quarter of 2010, compared to $391.0m for the corresponding quarter of 2009.

Argo Group said that fourth quarter 2010 results were impacted by additional estimated loss provisions related to new information on the New Zealand earthquake of September 2010.

Earned premiums for the fourth quarter of 2010 were $274.7m, compared to $352.1m for the fourth quarter of 2009.

For the year 2010, net income was $82.6m, or $2.76 per diluted share, compared to $117.5m or $3.81 per diluted share in 2009.

Total revenue was $1.38bn for the year 2010, compared to $1.54bn a year ago.

Argo Group CEO Mark Watson said that as a market-leading company in an industry in a deep cyclical trough, impacted by a series of major events over the past year, Argo Group reached an all-time high in book value per share, produced profitable operating results, and returned $121m in capital through share repurchases and common dividends.

"Also significant was the progress we made during 2010 in areas not yet fully reflected in our financial results. These included the addition of experienced underwriting teams and continuing improvements to the efficiency of our systems and processes," Watson said.