The Chubb Corporation reported $710 million net income for this year’s first quarter compared with $672 million in the same 2006 period.

Bear Stearns analyst David Small said the figure surpassed his estimate by nine cents a share and consensus estimate by 15 cents.

“This quarter again highlighted that Chubb’s stellar personal lines business should add stability to earnings as the overall insurance cycle softens,” he wrote.

Chubb Personal Insurance net written premiums grew 6 percent in the first quarter with a combined ratio of 79.3.

Commercial lines, representing 45 percent of business, could be a drag as premiums declined 1.4 percent and profitability was lower than expected due to higher than expected catastrophe losses and lower profitability out of commercial multiperil, he wrote.

“Management seems to be going into the soft market playbook, searching for growth, discussing a desire to grow in the wholesale channel,” Mr. Small wrote.

As conversations with brokers indicate an extremely competitive market, Mr. Small expressed skepticism about the strategy.

Chubb’s de-emphasis on directors and officers’ coverage continues to pay dividends as pricing has dropped severely, the analyst added.

Morgan Stanley analyst William Wilt wrote that improved capital management was evident in the numbers.

Other financial highlights:

o The overall combined loss ratio for the quarter was 83.4 compared with 82.9 in the previous the 2006 period.

o Net written premiums for the first quarter declined 2 percent to $2.9 billion.

o Premiums for insurance business decreased 1 percent in the United States and 7 percent outside the United States.