Feb 6 (Reuters) - Cincinnati Financial Corp (CINF.O) posted a 43 percent jump in quarterly earnings that topped analysts' expectations, as the property and casualty insurer recorded lowest catastrophe losses in more than a decade.
The Midwestern property and casualty insurer reported fourth-quarter earnings of $187 million, or $1.11 a share, compared with $130 million, or 75 cents a share, in the year-ago period.
Operating income rose to $1.07 a share. Analysts were looking for earnings of 73 cents a share, before items, according to Reuters Estimates.
Earned premiums for the quarter fell 2.5 percent to $809 million.
"Our commercial lines premiums continue to reflect reduced pricing due to increased competition," Chief Executive John Schiff said in a statement.
"Likewise, the marketplace is competitive for personal lines in many regions. Lower new and renewal premiums per policy have reduced our personal lines net written premiums," he added.
Looking ahead, Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Stecher said the company expects a 5 percent fall in net written premiums, if the current trends in commercial lines pricing continues into 2008. (Reporting by Avishek Mishra in Bangalore; editing by Anil D'Silva)