ACE Limited (NYSE: ACE) reported earnings on Jan. 31. Here are the numbers you need to know.

The 10-second takeaway
For the quarter ended Dec. 31 (Q4), ACE Limited beat expectations on revenues and beat expectations on earnings per share.

Compared to the prior-year quarter, revenue increased, and GAAP earnings per share dropped significantly.

Margins dropped across the board.

Revenue details
ACE Limited booked revenue of $3.63 billion. The eight analysts polled by S&P Capital IQ expected net sales of $3.51 billion. Sales were 3.1% higher than the prior-year quarter's $3.42 billion.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Dollar amounts in millions.

EPS details
Non-GAAP EPS came in at $1.94. The 19 earnings estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ forecast $1.79 per share on the same basis. GAAP EPS of $2.20 for Q4 were 25% lower than the prior-year quarter's $2.93 per share.

Source: S&P Capital IQ. Quarterly periods. Figures may be non-GAAP to maintain comparability with estimates.

Margin details
For the quarter, gross margin was 32.4%, 550 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Operating margin was 20.7%, 500 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter. Net margin was 16.7%, 630 basis points worse than the prior-year quarter.

Looking ahead
Next quarter's average estimate for revenue is $3.61 billion. On the bottom line, the average EPS estimate is $1.86.

Next year's average estimate for revenue is $15.23 billion. The average EPS estimate is $7.48.

Investor sentiment
Of Wall Street recommendations tracked by S&P Capital IQ, the average opinion on ACE Limited is outperform, with an average price target of $77.00.

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Seth Jayson had no position in any company mentioned here at the time of publication. You can view his stock holdings here. He is co-advisor of Motley Fool Hidden Gems, which provides new small-cap ideas every month, backed by a real-money portfolio. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.