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Aspen shares soar on record results

Shares in Bermudian (re)insurer Aspen Insurance Holdings ltd have jumped by more than 10 percent in early trading after the group's record full year net income rose by nearly a third on the same 2006 period.

The firm's stock jumped to $30.32 after opening at $27.37 following Aspen's results, which revealed full year net income of $489mn and fourth quarter net income of $135mn, up 29.3 percent and 13.1 percent respectively on the same prior-year periods.

The group's combined ratio for the full year was 83 percent against 79.4 percent in 2006.

Aspen also announced a new share buyback programme for up to $300mn of ordinary shares over the next two years.

The profits hike represented earnings per share of $5.11 for 2007, up 36 percent on 2006 and $1.44 for the quarter, up 20 percent on the same 2006 period.

Despite market softening, gross written premium climbed 6 percent to $305mn in 2007 compared to the same 2006 period.

However, for the full year gross written premiums was down around 6.5 percent to 1.82bn.

Full year net investment income shot up by nearly 50 percent to $299mn and by 28.1 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the prior-year period.

"Aspen delivered record net income and earnings per share. These outstanding results reflect that all areas of the company are executing in-line with our strategy to diversify and leverage our underwriting platforms, and generate strong consistent results from our investment portfolio," said Aspen CEO Chris O'Kane.

At the time of writing shares had slipped back to $8.11.

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