AIG reports surprise operating profit as investments gain

, Bloomberg

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Robert-Benmosche
Robert Benmosche

American International Group Inc., the insurer that repaid a U.S. bailout, announced fourth-quarter results beat analysts' estimates after investments drove a surprise operating profit.

Operating profit was 20 cents a share, beating the average estimate for a loss of 8 cents in a Bloomberg survey of 17 analysts. The net loss was $3.96 billion, driven by claims from superstorm Sandy and costs tied to a deal to sell the plane-leasing unit, New York-based AIG said Thursday in a statement.

The operating profit was "driven primarily by better-than-forecasted capital-markets" and other investment results, Randy Binner, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, said in a note.

Chief executive officer Robert Benmosche, 68, has struck deals to sell units including non-U.S. life insurers to simplify the company and help repay the government. He reached an agreement in December to sell at least 80 percent of the International Lease Finance Corp. plane business to a group of Chinese investors.

AIG surged 36 percent in 12 months in regular trading as the U.S. sold its stake. Taxpayers owned as much as 92 percent of AIG during a bailout that began in 2008 and swelled to $182.3 billion. AIG sold more than $70 billion of assets such as Asian insurers and a U.S. consumer lender to help repay the rescue, which ended in December.

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