Chubb's announcement of a nearly 7 percent share repurchaseauthorization has prompted one analyst to question the firmness ofproperty-casualty pricing next year.

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Bear Stearns property casualty analyst David Small said theannouncement by the Warren, N.J.-based p-c insurer comes incontrast to other companies that are raising equity in anticipationof price increases.

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Mr. Small said the move has made his organization more bullishon Chubb. "The company has shown strong operating results over thelast few quarters, and the repurchase program should put aconsistent bid under the shares going forward," he wrote.

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Well-run companies in cyclical industries tend to initiatecapital management programs at or near cycle peaks, Mr. Smallasserted.

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"Given that Chubb is one of the more well-respectedunderwriters, this announcement may be an indication thatmanagement feels there are not enough profitable opportunities todeploy an incremental $1.3 billion in the business," he said.

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Despite the fact that much of the capital was released by thesale of Chubb Re, Mr. Small said he also believes the repurchaseindicates Chubb may restrict growth in more volatile,capital-intensive lines of business where rating agencies areincreasing risk-based capital requirements.

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