Feb. 06--Allstate Corp.'s profits dropped 45 percent in the fourth quarter due to super storm Sandy, but the Northbrook-based home and auto insurer announced a 14 percent increase in its dividend and an additional $1 billion share repurchase.
The loss estimate for Sandy, which hit the east coast in October, was updated from its initial estimate of $1.08 billion to $1.12 billion.
For the fourth quarter of 2012, net income was $394 million, or 82 cents a share, compared to $712 million, or $1.41 a share a year earlier.
Allstate release its results after the market closed.
Operating income, which excludes such items as capital gains and losses on investments, was 59 cents a share; analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News were expecting a loss.
Allstate shares have risen 44 percent over the past year, compared with an average 18 percent increase for 22 other insurers in the Standard & Poor's 500.
In 2012, Allstate completed a $1 billion share repurchase and initiated a $1 billion share repurchase.
"Today, the board took additional actions to improve shareholder value by increasing the quarterly dividend to 25 cents and authorizing an additional $1 billion repurchase program expected to be completed by March 2014, bringing the total buyback authorization to $2 billion," Chief Financial Officer Steve Shebik said in a statement.
Allstate-branded auto policies maintained "strong" profitability, although Esurance, the online retailer that Allstate bought in 2011, continues to lose money as an underwriter.
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