Thursday, February 5, 2004

Legal help boosts Cincinnati Financial earnings

By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Good news on the legal front helped Cincinnati Financial Corp. more than double its fourth-quarter earnings.

The company reported net income of $130 million, or 80 cents a share, Wednesday for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, compared with $56 million, or 35 cents a share, in the same quarter of 2002. Revenue from premiums rose 7.5 percent to $690 million during the quarter, while loss payouts fell 6.5 percent.

Cincinnati Financial benefited strongly from two one-time gains.

One was the release of $38 million that had been set aside for uninsured motorist coverage payouts. The reserves were no longer needed because the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in November that employers' auto policies do not cover workers driving outside the scope of their employment.

The company also posted a $23 million gain from the settlement of a legal dispute that had forced it to take a $39 million charge in 2000.

For the year, Cincinnati Financial reported net income of $374 million, or $2.31 a share, compared with $238 million, or $1.46 a share, in 2002.

Shares of Cincinnati Financial closed up 68 cents to $44.18 Wednesday.


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