The Hanover comfortably beat earnings expectations to post a profit of $84mn in the first quarter as the carrier hailed the performance of its up-for-sale Lloyd’s business Chaucer.

The result, which equated to operating income per share of $1.95, was well above the $1.71 estimate predicted by five analysts surveyed by financial news site Marketwatch.

In a quiet quarter for losses, the Connecticut-based firm managed a combined ratio of 96.7 percent - including 5.6 points of catastrophe claims and 70 bps of adverse reserve development - down from 99.5 percent in the same period for 2017.

The performance was particularly strong in the carrier’s commercial lines segment, which swung back into the black with a profit of $61.5mn and a combined ratio of 97.2 percent, an improvement on the 100.2 percent result from last year despite broadly flat catastrophe claims of 6 points.

Net written premiums were up 7.5 percent at $671.9mn as core commercial pricing rates rose around 3.8 percent in the quarter.

Net investment income totalled $82.9mn in a rough quarter for equity markets, an increase of 16.6 percent on the prior year.

The company’s president and CEO John Roche hailed a strong start to the year, reserving particular praise for its up-for-sale Lloyd’s arm Chaucer which he said had demonstrated “an impressive ability to navigate the dynamic market conditions” on Lime Street.

“We feel good about where we are in the process,” he said.

“We have good and viable options, including a sale or retaining and continuing to manage the development of this valuable business.

“We are exploring alternatives for Chaucer from a position of strength, with both our domestic and international businesses performing well and providing strong prospects going forward.”