U.S. bailed-out insurer American International Group(AIG) reported a 19.8 billion U.S. dollar profit for the fourth quarter, according to foreign media reports Friday.
Net income soared to 19.8 billion dollars, or 10.43 dollars per share, compared with a year-earlier profit of 11.18 billion dollars, or 16.60 dollars per share.
AIG shares rose to 29.70 dollars in after-market trading from a 27.99 dollars close in regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
"Two years ago, skeptics – and even some supporters – thought it inconceivable that we would be in a position to post our second consecutive annual profit," said Chief Executive Robert Benmosche.
Not only did the insurer turn a profit in 2011, it also repaid a credit facility from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and managed to give the Treasury a clear path toward exiting its investment, the CEO continued.
"We have a high degree of confidence in our future e arnings prospects," he added, "which is a critical element in our assessment supporting the release of the deferred tax asset valuation allowance."
The future of the tax assets has been a key question for investors, with some analysts suggesting the value of the assets made up as much as a fifth of AIG's stock price.
Fund manager Bruce Berkowitz, AIG's largest non-government shareholder, has said the value of the assets was underestimated by the market.
AIG's global property insurance unit, Chartis, returned to profitability in the quarter. It earned 348 million dollars, despite 368 million dollars in catastrophe losses related to the flooding in Thailand. AIG said Chartis experienced stronger pricing, and premiums written increased on growth in its consumer business.
SunAmerica, AIG's U.S. life insurer, reported a smaller profit of 931 million dollars in the quarter, as net investment income declined.
SunAmerica also reported a 105 million dollars increase in reserves in the quarter, like other life insurers have of late, for death benefits that may be due to policyholders but have not been claimed yet. Various states have been probing whether insurers were doing enough to ensure that such claims are paid.