SAN FRANCISCO - The PMI Group Inc., a leading mortgage insurer, reported first-quarter earnings of $29.9 million, an increase of 25% over the first quarter of 1994.

Earnings per share were 85 cents.

"The growth in our earnings for the first quarter was primarily the result of revenue growth at PMI and a decrease in our underwriting and other expenses," said W. Roger Haughton, president and chief executive.

PMI's primary insurance in force as of March 31 was $67.3 billion, compared with $58.4 billion on March 31 last year, a 15% gain. With refinancings virtually disappearing, some 86.7% of PMI's insurance has been in force at least a year, up from 69% on the same date a year earlier. New insurance written in the first quarter totaled $3.1 billion, compared with $4.7 billion a year ago.

"Although we anticipate a decline this year in new insurance written volume with a reduction in refinancings from the prior year, PMI's primary insurance in force should continue to grow" because of higher retention of existing policies, Mr. Haughton said.

PMI's net premiums written in the first quarter of 1995 were $61.7 million, an increase of 27%. PMI's monthly premium plan, which was introduced in March 1994, represented 75% of new insurance written in the first quarter of 1995.

Previously, most premiums were paid for a year in advance.

PMI, based in San Francisco, is the nation's third-largest mortgage insurer.

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