Beazley Shares Hit Record After U.S. Business Boosts Profit

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Beazley Plc climbed to a record after reporting an increase in first-half profit as the Lloyd’s of London insurer targets as much as 20 percent growth in the U.S.

The company, the first Lloyd’s insurer to post results, said pretax income rose 16 percent to $154.5 million in the six months through June, boosted by a 25 percent jump in U.S. premiums, according to a statement Friday. Shares rallied to their highest since November 2002, and were up 5 percent to 336 pence at 10:20 a.m. in London.

“The aim of the past year or two has been to continue to focus on our U.S. business, where pricing is less volatile and competition is less severe,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Horton said in a telephone interview. Dublin-based Beazley could grow in the U.S. “somewhere between 15 and 20 percent for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Beazley, a specialist insurer with a market capitalization of 1.7 billion pounds ($2.6 billion), is targeting 5 percent growth for 2015 as the company looks to its U.S. unit to diversify and help offset falling prices for coverage at Lloyd’s of London. Cyber-insurance has been a particular source of business for Beazley in the U.S., growing to $120 million in six years, Horton said.

The insurer’s combined ratio, a measure of profitability, improved to 86 percent from 90 percent a year earlier. The company will pay an interim dividend of 3.3 pence, up from 3.1 pence. Gross written premiums, meanwhile, advanced 2 percent to $1.1 billion, while net investment income fell to $43.5 million from $46.8 million, the company said.

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