MBIA Inc. (MBI) swung to a first-quarter profit as losses on derivatives continued to ease, though the insurer's core results worsened as earned premiums stagnated.
"Our first quarter 2012 operating results were a disappointment due to the significant actions we took to reduce future volatility in our insured portfolio and lower liquidity risk at the holding company," President and Chief Financial Officer Chuck Chaplin said.
MBIA has reported a string of choppy results in recent years, hinging on the varying performance of its insured derivatives. The company, one of the largest bond insurers in the world, suffered wide losses after the housing-market crash caused insurance on mortgage-related securities to backfire.
In 2009, MBIA split off its public-finance business, calling it the National Public Finance Guarantee Corp., while the structured-finance guarantees--with all their obligations--remained with MBIA Insurance Corp. That move prompted many banks to sue MBIA, though the insurer reached settlements with most of them.
The three banks still pursuing litigation argue that MBIA's restructuring was improper and will take the insurer to trial this month in New York State Supreme Court. The banks--Bank of America Corp. (BAC), Natixis (KN.FR) and Societe Generale (GLE.FR, SCGLY)--are alleging an MBIA unit they expected to pay them is effectively insolvent and unable to pay claims.
Overall, MBIA posted a profit of $10 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $1.27 billion, or $6.37 a share.
MBIA's adjusted pre-tax loss reached $548 million in the quarter, compared with a $25 million profit a year earlier.
The insurer reported $383 million of revenue, compared with a negative $1.61 billion top line a year ago caused by $1.42 billion in losses on insured derivatives. Total premiums earned were flat at $137 million.
MBIA's insured derivatives gained $299 million in value overall, compared with a $1.78 billion loss a year earlier.
Investment income dropped 46%.
Shares were off 1.2% at $9.70 after hours. The stock had fallen 15% so far this year through Thursday's close.
-By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909; Andrew.FitzGerald@dowjones.com