Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. announced Tuesday that it has doubled its fourth-quarter core earnings estimate, and it said core operations "performed well" in the period.

The Connecticut company now expects to report core earnings per share of $1.45 to $1.60. Its previous projection was 65 cents to 80 cents. Hartford is to report its fourth-quarter results Feb. 8.

Liam E. McGee, who took over as chief executive officer and chairman in October, said in a press release, "This is our third consecutive quarter of improving core earnings results, demonstrating the underlying strength of The Hartford's franchise." McGee has said previously that the company was preparing for a "slow, choppy recovery" in the economy in 2010 and beyond.

Property and casualty operations continued to generate strong underwriting profitability, helped by disciplined risk selection and light catastrophe losses. Life insurance results benefited from improving margins in equity-sensitive businesses.

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