United Fire Group Inc. reported consolidated net income of $44.5 million, or $1.74 per diluted share, for the first quarter ended March 31. That compares with consolidated net income of $45.8 million, or $1.80 per share, for the same period in 2018. Those figures include net realized investment gains and losses and changes in the fair value of equity securities, the company said in its earnings release. "The first quarter of 2019 benefited from strong equity markets and an increase in net premiums earned, partially offset by a decrease in favorable prior-year reserve development," said Randy Ramlo, president and CEO. The increase in net premiums earned was primarily due to the company’s continued focus on increasing rates in its commercial auto book of business to improve profitability, he said. UFG’s annualized return on equity was 19.3% for the three-month period ended March 31, compared with 11.0% for the same period in 2018. Annualized ROE is anticipated to drop in the second and third quarters, which typically have more catastrophe losses.