The AIG logo is seen on the AIG building in Tokyo, Japan. File picture: Michael Caronna, Reuters

New York - US insurance giant American International Group on Thursday said it swung into loss in the 2012 fourth quarter, taking a pummeling from superstorm Sandy and a unit sale.

AIG reported a $4 billion net loss in the October-December quarter, compared with $21.5 billion in net income in the year-ago period.

Per share, the fourth-quarter loss was $2.68; a year ago it had $11.31 earnings per share.

The massive storm Sandy that ravaged the heavily populated Northeast in late October resulted in a pre-tax “catastrophe loss” of $2 billion.

The results were also hit by a $4.4 billion net loss related to the sale of its aircraft leasing unit International Lease Finance Corporation.

Revenues fell 3.2 percent to $15.8 billion.

After-tax operating income was $290 million, or 20 cents per share. Analysts on average estimated a loss of eight cents per share.

AIG, which collapsed and took a massive government bailout to survive during the financial crisis four years ago, said the company was proving it was on the road to recovery.

“AIG's operating profit this quarter shows the power and financial strength of our diverse global franchise,” Robert Benmosche, AIG president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“We achieved these operating profits in spite of Storm Sandy - the second-largest single catastrophe event for AIG in the US.”

For the full year, net income was $3.4 billion, down from $20.6 billion in 2011.

AIG shares lost 0.8 percent ahead of the company's earnings report after the markets closed.

Shares were up almost 4 percent at $38.72 in after-market trade. - Sapa-AFP