Two more N.H. firms see earnings jump



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Everything still seems to be coming up roses, at least when it comes to the earnings of two more New Hampshire-based public companies.White Mountains InsuranceWhite Mountains finished the year with a bang, despite near record catastrophic losses around the world, partly thanks to the sale of its Esurance auto insurance subsidiary to Allstate.According to the earnings report of the insurance holding company -- officially headquartered in Bermuda, but run out of Hanover -- quarterly net income was $800 million, which brought it out of the red for an annual profit of $768 million, both roughly 10 times the amount it earned a year earlier.The company doesn't break that down to single earnings per share -- partly because the wild gyrations in profits from one year to the next in the insurance sector. Instead, it emphasizes the adjusted book value per share, which now stands at $542, $89 -- or 23 percent -- higher than the year before.The financial website Motley Crue -- in a post entitled, "This insurance company just kicked Wall Street's butt" -- put the company's earnings per share at $8.65, double its lone analyst's expectations of $4.CEO Ray Barrette put it differently: "White Mountains had a very good year."The big news of the year was the sale of Esurance and Answer Financial to Allstate Insurance at a "significant premium" in October for $700 million, a recorded gain of $678 million, Barrette said.The company had so much cash, and felt its stock price was such a bargain that it repurchased 657,000 shares, or 8 percent of the company, and still ended the year with about $2 billion in undeployed capital -- nearly double the amount it had at the end of the previous year.The company didn't do too badly with the two subsidiaries it had left: OneBeacon and Sirius Group (a reconstituted White Mountain Re), which, pretax, earned nearly $70 million between them, offset by investment losses of about $11 million.But OneBeacon CEO Mike Miller called the quarterly results "disappointing," due to areas outside the core specialty business, an increase in reserves and overfunding of the pension plan. But all that should change next year after the July sale of its personal lines business is complete.Sirius recorded another $34 million payout due to flooding in but reported that its payout relating to the damage caused by last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan was overestimated by $9 million.Last year the company paid out a total of $81 million for damages related to the Japanese disaster and another $51 million in damages related to a major earthquake in New Zealand.MicroneticsHudson-based defense subcontractor Micronetics also reported an almost tenfold increase in profit during its third quarter of fiscal 2012, which ended Dec. 31. It said its profit was about $900,000, or 20 cents a diluted share, compared to 2011, when the comparable figures were $100,000, or 2 cents a share.That brings the company's year-to-date net income to $2.5 million (56 cents a share), compared to about $1 million in fiscal 2011.Quarterly sales of $12 million rose 58 percent year over year, and year to date the sales totaled $33.7 million -- a 30 percent increase from 2011.While defense spending looks like it may be destined for the chopping block, the microwave and radio frequency specialist is benefiting from the Defense Department's effort to modernize, winning contracts with a variety of contractors, including BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.The company landed $12 million in multiyear development and production subsystem contracts, according to David Robbins, and had a $26 million backlog at the end of the calendar year. -- BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

 

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