By ALEX VEIGA, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Insurer American International Group, which came close to collapsing during the financial crisis before being bailed out by the federal government, said Thursday that its profit grew more than twofold in the first quarter.
AIG reported that its net income, after paying preferred dividends, climbed to $3.2 billion, or $1.71 a share, in the three months ended March 31. That compares to net income of $1.3 billion, or 31 cents a share, in the same period last year.
The company's after-tax operating income, which excludes the impact of certain investments and hedging activities, was $3.1 billion, or $1.65 a share. In the prior-year period, it was $2.1 billion, or $1.34 a share. Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting on average adjusted net income of $1.19 a share in the latest quarter.
The New York-based company's gains were driven mainly by improved performance at its Chartis and SunAmerica insurance units. The company's aircraft leasing business also posted a higher operating income.
In addition, AIG recorded a $1.3 billion increase in the fair value of its interest in a limited-liability company formed by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as an investment vehicle following the 2008 financial crisis.
Management touted the strong quarterly results, noting that the company achieved a milestone during the quarter: The amount of outstanding or authorized assistance from Uncle Sam is now down by 75 percent.
AIG got the biggest bailout of the financial crisis: $182.5 billion. The Treasury Department provided $68 billion under its financial bailout program, and the New York Fed gave AIG a $114 billion lifeline. AIG has repaid all but $17.5 billion of the Fed loans.
The Treasury Department still owns about 70 percent of AIG's common stock and has been selling its shares in chunks. Treasury has recovered $18 billion of the $68 billion it gave to AIG.
Meanwhile, AIG's balance sheet has been looking better.
The company posted net income of $17.8 billion for 2011, its second straight year of profits.
In the latest quarter, AIG's Chartis unit generated $1 billion in operating income, compared to a $424 million operating loss a year earlier.
The unit's latest results included catastrophe losses of $80 million, the company said.
SunAmerica's operating income rose to $1.3 billion from $1.2 billion in the prior-year period, aided by investment gains. Those gains were partially offset by lower returns from hedge-fund and private-equity investments.
AIG's aircraft leasing business generated operating income of $119 million, up from $117 million a year earlier.
United Guaranty Corp., AIG's residential mortgage guarantee business, posted operating income of $8 million, down from $14 million, as net premiums written declined.
While delinquency rates at the unit were down, general weakness in the housing market continued to weigh on its results, AIG said.
Shares of AIG ended regular trading down 62 cents, or 1.9 percent, at $34.14. The stock slipped 32 cents to $33.82 in extended trading. It is up 47 percent so far in 2012.
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