One of Canada's largest car and home insurers, Intact Financial Corp. , is raising quarterly dividends to shareholders by 6.25 per cent following a $96.7-million profit in the fourth quarter.
The profit amounts to 81 cents per share and represents a big a turnaround from the $64.1-million loss reported a year earlier by the Toronto-based insurance company formerly known as ING Canada.
Intact will increase its quarterly dividend by 2 cents to 34 cents per common share beginning in March following what its chief executive officer says was a strong fourth quarter and promising outlook for the coming year.
Intact's revenue from premiums during the fourth quarter increased by 4.5 per cent, rising to $1-billion in the quarter from $968.2-million a year earlier.
The company says home insurance premiums are increasing across the industry as a result of severe storms. Personal auto insurance premiums are also increasing, mainly in Ontario, reflecting higher medical costs in the province.
"This was a particularly strong quarter with much improved underwriting performance," said Charles Brindamour, Intact's president and chief executive officer.
"The return to profitability of our home insurance business was a significant achievement, which reflects the positive outcome of our comprehensive improvement plan and more moderate weather conditions. Our top-line is also gaining momentum, reflecting the impact of more favourable pricing conditions and the success of our organic growth initiatives."
"While the industry pricing environment is unfolding as we anticipated, the unpredictability of weather patterns and the high cost of medical claims in Ontario may continue to impact the industry's performance in the short term."
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