Calmer catastrophe conditions are helping insurance giant Allstate (NYSE:ALL) post steady financial results. They're also helping the company generate excess cash flow with which to buy back gobs of stock. Future sailing may not turn out to be quite as smooth, since insurance stocks are always up against Mother Nature, but mighty Allstate is among the most able to ride out any potential turbulence.

Allstate's recently announced first-quarter results confirm the current tranquil industry conditions. Colder winter weather in the northeastern and central United States caused auto property-damage frequency to grow 4.8% compared with last year's first quarter, but a lack of major blizzards and other nature-related calamities helped the combined ratio come in at a favorable 84.6%. Return on equity was also impressive at 23.5%.

Allstate has also been reducing its exposure to coastal areas that are at higher risk of hurricanes. For the quarter, the number of auto and homeowner premiums written grew most rapidly in states other than the ones that management has deemed "hurricane exposure states." Higher interest rates are also helping to increase net investment income at Allstate Financial, which houses the company's life insurance, annuity, and investment activities.

Thanks to a stable insurance market, book value grew by double digits, and Allstate repurchased $700 million in stock during the quarter. It also pays current shareholders a 2.5% dividend yield, and the shares appear reasonably valued at less than 9 times analyst projections for the coming year.

Granted, other dominant insurance firms, such as Chubb (NYSE:CB), Progressive (NYSE:PGR), AIG (NYSE:AIG), and Hartford Financial Services (NYSE:HIG), are also trading at low P/E multiples. Perhaps investors are worried that global warming means hurricane severity has permanently increased, and it's only a matter of time before we see a repeat of the 2005 season.

In Allstate's case, it is moving out of higher-risk areas and believes that its "highly successful marketing programs continue to distinguish us from our competition and deliver quantifiable results for our auto insurance business," which helps build awareness in other product categories. I don't know whether Allstate's recent marketing stacks up to Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B) Geico caveman ads, but it does have one of the more powerful brand names in insurance. And that's another important advantage in such a crowded and competitive industry.        

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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann has no financial interest in any company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.