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Genworth surges most since 2010 as CEO calms Wall Street nerves

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(Bloomberg) — Genworth Financial Inc. climbed the most since 2010 after first-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates as Chief Executive Officer Tom McInerney works to free up capital to meet debt payments.

The insurer surged 21 percent to $3.45 at 9:45 a.m. in New York trading. Richmond, Virginia-based Genworth reported Thursday that operating profit was 21 cents a share, beating by 8 cents the average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

McInerney has been shrinking the insurer through asset sales after a $1.2 billion loss in 2014 that was fueled by its long-term care business. The LTC operation, which pays for home health aides and nursing home stays, repeatedly caught investors off-guard with higher-than-expected claims costs. Even though net income was down from the first three months of 2015, the results announced Thursday were less jarring, according to Ryan Krueger, an analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods.

“There were no major capital or strategic surprises,” Krueger said Friday in a note. “The company continues to work through its U.S. life insurance restructuring plan.”

McInerney is seeking the OK from regulators to charge consumers more for LTC policies that they bought in prior years. Genworth received approval from bondholders in March for changes that give the CEO more flexibility to divest assets and simplify the company.

Genworth has $600 million of debt due in 2018, and McInerney said premium increases will help the insurer meet its obligations. He also wants support from state overseers for plans to eventually transfer funds from subsidiaries to the holding company, where the cash could be used to repay bondholders.

Net income slumped 66 percent to $53 million, partly on costs tied to litigation, restructuring and the bondholder solicitation.