Everest Re chief executive Joe Taranto has blamed catastrophe-driven market volatility after the reinsurer made a net operating loss of $189.6m in the first half of 2011.

The Bermudian reinsurer’s first half loss followed a net profit of $110.0m for the same period in 2010.

Despite the losses, Taranto remains buoyant. "While volatility persisted into the second quarter with further catastrophe loss events, our business franchise and capital position remains strong," he said.

Second quarter results showed signs of improvement with the company posting a $134.0m profit, down 27% from $144.8m in 2010.

Net written premiums for the first half also improved up 7% to $2.05bn from $1.91bn in 2010.

Taranto added: "We continue to be disciplined in our approach to risk and pricing and we are pleased with the underwriting portfolio we have constructed through the recent renewal cycles. While premium has come down modestly, overall we are achieving higher risk-adjusted returns on our business."