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Assurant tops profit estimates on global housing unit strength

(Reuters) - Insurer Assurant sailed past Wall Street estimates for profit in the fourth quarter on Tuesday on strong showing in its global housing unit and higher investment income.

The company's global housing segment, which offers lender-placed insurance, multi-family housing and mortgage services, saw adjusted EBITDA surge 56% in the quarter to $186.1 million.

Investment returns at major insurers have rebounded as global capital markets have rallied on hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve is nearing the end of its rate-hike cycle. Net investment income climbed to $145.5 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $102.3 million last year.

On an adjusted basis, Assurant reported a profit of $4.58 per share in the fourth quarter, above analysts' estimates of $3.72 per share, according to LSEG data.

The company's net earned premiums, fees and other income from the Global Lifestyle and Global Housing segments stood at $2.85 billion, up 12% from a year ago.

"We expect earnings growth to continue into 2024 as we enter the year from a position of strength," CEO Keith Demmings said in a statement.

The company foresees a mid-single-digit growth in its adjusted EBITDA for 2024, with adjusted profit per share expected to grow slightly less than adjusted EBITDA.

(Reporting by Sri Hari N S in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid)