* Q3 oper EPS $2.22 vs consensus $1.61
* Highest oper EPS in company history
* Catastrophe losses fall sharply
Oct 18 (Reuters) - Travelers Cos Inc posted record operating profit in the third quarter, as prices rose and losses from natural disasters fell sharply, the property insurance company said on Thursday.
Travelers was able to increase rates in all business lines and also retain customers, a strong sign for the rest of the industry. The company has been a bellwether for insurers' ability to raise pricing after years of weakness.
The Dow Jones industrial average component reported a net profit of $867 million, or $2.21 per share, compared with a year-earlier net profit of $333 million, or 79 cents per share.
On an operating basis, Travelers earned $2.22 per share, the highest quarterly operating income per share in the company's history. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected earnings of $1.61 per share.
Catastrophe losses in the period were $59 million after tax, compared with $394 million a year earlier.