Markel (NYSE:MKL) reported its net income stood at $6.25 per share in the first quarter of 2014, down 35% from the $9.50 per share seen in the first quarter of last year. In total, its net income was essentially flat, as it stood at $88.9 million in the first quarter of 2013, versus $87.7 million in the first quarter of this year.

The company did note its total operating income was up slightly from $141 million in the first quarter of last year, to $146 million this year, a gain of 3%.

Part of the reason behind the reduced earnings per share at Markel resulted from increased losses from its insurance operations, where the combined ratio -- its total losses and expenses divided by the premiums it earned -- rose from 91% last year to 95% this year. As a result, although its earned premiums rose nearly 70% from $565 million to $949 million, its underwriting profits only rose by $3.5 million, or 7%, to $51.6 million.

"During the first quarter of 2014 we increased total operating revenues by 51% compared to the same period last year while achieving profitable underwriting results in each of our ongoing underwriting segments," noted CEO and Chairman Alan Kirshner in the earnings announcement.

It was in May of last year that it first completed its $3.3 billion acquisition of Alterra, a specialty insurance and reinsurance company headquartered in Bermuda. As a result, its total size has grown from $13.1 billion in March of last year to $24.5 billion this year. As a result, the outstanding common shares of Markel have risen 45%, explaining why its earnings per share fell dramatically more.

"One year later, we have completed the integration of Alterra into our insurance operations and are pleased with the results," Kirshner continued. "We also increased our international presence in 2014 with our acquisition of Abbey Protection, an integrated specialty insurance and consultancy group headquartered in London."

In total, the book value per share at Markel rose by 4% over the first three months of the year, from $477.16 at the end of December 2013 to $493.96 as of March 31, 2014.

Patrick Morris has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Markel. 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.