Private mortgage insurance provider MGIC Investment Corp. (NYSE:MTG) reported fourth-quarter net income of $134.5 million, up 29.5 percent from the $103.9 million reported for the same quarter a year ago. Diluted earnings per share gained to $1.39 in the fourth quarter, up 32.4 percent from $1.05 for the same quarter a year ago.

Net income for the full year 2004 was $553.2 million, compared with $493.9 million for the same period last year, an increase of 12 percent. Diluted earnings per share for the full year 2004 were $5.63 compared with $4.99 in 2003, a 12.8 percent increase.

Curt S. Culver, president and chief executive officer of MGIC Investment Corp. and Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp., said that earnings were higher as a result of improved credit loss performance, higher contributions from joint ventures and lower operating expenses achieved during the year that were partially offset by the expected decline in earned premiums.

Total revenues for the fourth quarter were $403.1 million, down 3.4 percent from $417.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2003. The decline in revenues resulted from a 5 percent decrease in net premiums earned to $332.6 million. Net premiums written for the quarter were $336.4 million, compared with $355.9 million in the fourth quarter last year, a decrease of 5.5 percent.

Total revenues for the year were $1.61 billion, compared with $1.69 billion in 2003. The decrease in revenues for the year resulted from a 2.7 percent decrease in premiums earned to $1.33 billion from $1.37 billion last year and a decrease in other revenues. Net premiums written for the year were $1.31 billion, compared with $1.36 billion in 2003, a decrease of 4.3 percent.

New insurance written in the fourth quarter was $15.8 billion, compared to $19.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2003. New insurance written for the quarter included $4.8 billion of bulk business compared with $5.1 billion in the same period last year. New insurance written for the full year 2004 was $62.9 billion compared to $96.8 billion in 2003 and includes $15.8 billion of bulk business compared to $25.7 billion in 2003.

The percentage of fourth-quarter loans that were delinquent, excluding bulk loans, was 3.99 percent, compared with 3.76 percent reported for fourth-quarter 2003.

Losses incurred in the fourth quarter were $186.4 million, down from $230 million reported for the same period last year. Losses incurred for the full year 2004 were $701 million, down from $766 million in 2003.

Underwriting expenses were $70.8 million in the fourth quarter, down from $73.1 million reported for the same period last year. Underwriting expenses for the full year 2004 were $282.4 million, down from $305.9 million in 2003.

MGIC shares traded at $66.34 per share this morning.

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