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Mercury General reports Q4 net loss

Mercury General has reported a net loss of $168.3 million

Mercury General, a company engaged in writing automobile insurance, has reported a net loss of $168.3 million, or $3.07 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with a net income of $44.6 million, or $0.81 per diluted share, for the same period in 2007.

Operating loss was $26.7 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2008, down 169.9% from $38.21 million, or $0.69 per diluted share, for the comparable quarter in 2007. Company-wide net premiums written were $641.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, an 8.3% decrease over the $699.9 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2007.

For the year ended December 31, 2008, net loss was $242.1 million, or $4.42 per diluted share, compared to a net income of $237.8 million, or $4.34 per diluted share, for the year ended December 31, 2007.

For the year, operating income was $115.7 million, or $2.12 per diluted share, down 48.4% from $224.31 million, or $4.09 per diluted share, for 2007. Company-wide net premiums written for the year 2008 were approximately $2.8 billion, a 7.8% decrease over $2.98 billion for the year 2007.