White Mountains reports big earnings hike

White Mountains Insurance has bounced back from the hurricane-related losses of last year, ending the third quarter with net income of $162 million, compared to a net loss of $66 million in the third quarter of 2005.

That brings year-to-date net income to $374 million, almost $120 million more than the company made during the same period last year.

“Simply put, it was a great quarter. There were no headline catastrophe events — it’s the first time in a few years that Mother Nature did not roar in the third quarter,” said Tom Hutton, CEO of White Mountains Re, one of the company’s subsidiaries.

The gains translate into tangible book value per share of $373, an increase of 5.7 percent for the quarter and 10.8 percent for first nine months of 2006.

The gain is good news for the executives of the Bermuda insurance holding group, which still has ties to Hanover, N.H. It brings up their outstanding performance shares’ value to some $50 million.

Investors reacted favorably to the earnings. The company’s stock closed at $576 a share Thursday, a $13 increase over the previous day’s closing. – BOB SANDERS

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