Seattle-based Safeco Corp., battling financial problems, recently reported first-quarter income before charges of $47.8 million, compared with income before charges of $12 million for the same quarter last year.Operating income was $43.5 million, including $4.3 million as part of a previously announced restructuring charge and excluding realized gains from investments. This compares with an operating loss of $905 million the first quarter of 2001 when Safeco wrote off goodwill associated with previous acquisitions.

"Progress in our core lines is about where we expect it to be. We're rolling out new products. We're focusing on profitable sales. And we're starting to see growth," states Mike McGavick, Safeco president and CEO.

Net written premiums for Safeco's property/casualty products decreased 3.3% compared with the first quarter of 2001. This reflects strategic decisions Safeco made last year to re-underwrite core lines of business and reduce the amount of insurance it writes for homeowners and large commercial accounts.

Net written auto premiums increased 6.7% in the quarter compared with the same period last year, reflecting the positive effects of recent rate increases. Policies in force decreased by 2.9% compared with the first quarter of 2001.

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