White Mountains’ book value climbs
White Mountains Insurance Group yesterday posted profits of $274 million for the last quarter of 2015.
The figure was up by $219.1 million on the $54.9 million recorded for the same quarter the previous year.
The book value per share was $699, up 6.8 per cent for the quarter and 5.3 per cent for the year. Adding the estimated $84 per share for the sale of the firm's Stockholm-based Sirius reinsurance arm, announced last year, adjusted book value per share is about $783, up 18 per cent for the full year, including dividends.
Ray Barrette, chairman and chief executive officer of White Mountains, said: “It was a big year for White Mountains, driven by the agreements to sell the Sirius Group and Symetra.
“Adjusted book value per share was up 18 per cent to $783, including the Sirius Group sale gain calculated on its year-end book value.”
The sale is expected to close by the end of March this year, while the Symetra sale closed at the start of this month, with most of the gain included in the 2015 results.
Mr Barrette added: “Excluding these transactions, we had a decent year.
“Our total return on invested assets, excluding Symetra, was impacted by the strengthening dollar and weak equity markets.
“One Beacon, 96 per cent combined ratio, and Sirius Group, 85 per cent combined ratio, contributed solid underwriting profits.
“BAM made big strides with strong growth and improved pricing. Insurance Services are doing well.”
Mr Barrette said that the company had repurchased about 387,000 shares worth $284 million over last year at an average price of $733.
He added: “Our share count is now down to an all-time low of 5.6 million shares.
“After the Sirius Group sale, we expect to have roughly $2.4 billion of undeployed capital at the parent.
“Going forward, we are likely to buy back shares while we look for good opportunities to redeploy capital. In the current environment, patience is required.”