The Allstate Corporation (NYSE:ALL), a $27 billion property and insurance company with a focus on home and auto insurance, presented solid third quarter results on Thursday.
The insurance business reported earnings, which beat consensus estimates, delivered another quarter of strong net written premium growth and combined ratios, but also reported higher catastrophe losses that weighed on Allstate's operating income.
1. Earnings beat
Allstate reported operating earnings of $1.39 per share, which beat consensus estimates of $1.33 per share. Allstate's earnings beat follows similarly strong results at The Travelers Companies and The Hartford Financial Services Group, which both reported third quarter earnings beats as well.

Though catastrophe losses affected Allstate's third quarter profitability by $517 million compared against just $128 million in the year ago quarter, Allstate's results nonetheless indicate a strongly performing insurance franchise.
2. Robust premium growth and combined ratios
Probably the biggest takeaway from Allstate's third quarter results was, that the company was affected by catastrophe losses that were four times larger than last year.

Despite that, Allstate was able to achieve a property-liability underwriting gain of $474 million in the most recent quarter. Its combined ratio has slightly improved sequentially to 93.5%, which compares against 97.4% in 2Q 2014 and against 90% in 3Q 2013. Allstate's underlying combined ratio, which adjusts for non-recurring items like catastrophe losses, however, remained in the mid-80% neighborhood with 86.1%.

Source: The Allstate Corporation Third Quarter Results Presentation

Allstate also benefited from premium momentum in the most recent quarter. Allstate's third quarter saw 4.9% premium growth to $7.8 billion in its property-liability business, which added to the positive premium trend Allstate has seen over the course of last year.

3. Capital deployment
Companies often resort to share repurchases to supplement a dividend that's paid to shareholders.
The initiation or increase of a dividend usually signals to investors that a company intends to keep paying regular cash, which is why dividends are viewed as a permanent commitment. Share repurchases, on the other hand, are often supplementing dividend payments, and are mostly opportunistic in nature.
And Allstate remains committed to going full in on delivering value for shareholders via the deployment of both dividends and share buybacks. As Thomas J. Wilson, chairman, president and CEO of The Allstate Corporation, said relating to Allstate's third quarter results:

"Shareholders continued to realize good returns, with an operating income return on equity of 13% and $1.05 billion of dividends and share repurchases in the third quarter."
And that's exactly what shareholders want to hear. Not only did the company perform well with a 13% return on equity, but management is more than willing to share those gains with shareholders. Year-to-date, Allstate returned $2.42 billion to investors, which is some serious cash.

In the most recent quarter, Allstate bought back its own shares for a total consideration of $926 million, and the company is determined to continue to deploy capital for the benefit of shareholders in the future.
Furthermore, Allstate's management is shareholder friendly, funneling substantial amounts of money back to shareholders in both dividends (with a 1.8% yield, according to S&P Capital IQ) and share repurchases. With further premium momentum, solid combined ratios, and a focus on capital deployment, Allstate remains an interesting insurance investment after its latest results release.

Kingkarn Amjaroen has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.