Insurer Mercury swings to a loss

From Times Wire Services

Mercury General Corp., which primarily provides homeowners and auto insurance, said it swung to a loss for the first quarter because of nearly $60 million in losses on investments and a decline in written premiums.

Los Angeles-based Mercury lost $4 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with a profit of $60.5 million, or $1.11 a share, last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial forecast earnings of $1.01 a share.

Mercury attributed the loss to $59.9 million in losses tied to investments. The loss reduced earnings by $1.09 a share.

Net premiums written decreased 7% to $729.3 million from $785.9 million during the year-earlier quarter.

Mercury shares fell 18 cents to $50.88.

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