July 31--Allstate Corp. earned $423 million in the second quarter, compared with a loss of $624 million a year earlier, due partly to lower catastrophe losses.
Operating profit was 87 cents a share; 23 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News expected the Northbrook-based home and auto insurer to earn an average of 52 cents a share. Allstate reported its financial results after the stock market closed.
Allstate had catastrophe losses of $819 million in the quarter, compared with catastrophe losses of $2.3 billion in last year's second quarter.
Total premiums written were $6.86 billion, up 3.8 percent from the year earlier due largely to the acquisition of Esurance in October 2011. Esurance, which sells policies online, remains unprofitable, however.
Allstate brand auto premiums written fell to $3.9 billion from $3.91 billion in last year's quarter; the insurer saw the number of policies on its books decline as it raised premiums.
In 19 states, for example, Allstate raised auto premiums by an average of 4.4 percent in the second quarter; in seven states, it raised homeowners' premiums an average of 10.2 percent.
The company saw the number of Allstate-brand auto policies on its books fall to 17.6 million from 18 million. Allstate's policy counts are based on items rather than customers. A multicar customer would generate multiple item, or policy counts, even if all cars were insured on one policy. Allstate saw new applications issued drop 3 percent, to 458,000.
Overall policies on its books, auto and homeowners, dropped by 0.6 percent from year-end 2011.
"Total Allstate brand premiums written grew compared to last year as higher average homeowners premiums and growth in emerging businesses more than offset a decline in Allstate brand homeowners and standard auto policies," Chief Executive Tom Wilson said.
In the second quarter, Allstate repurchased shares worth $275 million, bringing total purchases to $681 million under a $1 billion authorization.
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