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Before companies released their Q1 results for 2012, global investment bank Keefe, Bruyette & Woods (KBW) had warned of rising reserve deficiencies among the 55 insurance stocks it follows. But KBW—along with many other industry observers—turned out to be wrong, as its group of non-life insurers released “surprisingly strong” reserves during the quarter.

Only eight companies in the group added to reserves during the first three months of this year and releases slowed only marginally compared to 2011’s first quarter, KBW says. Overall, the sector “solidly outperformed” the investment bank’s earnings-per-share estimates.

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