Axis on ‘a strong path forward’ says CEO
Axis Capital's three businesses all achieved improved results in the third quarter as the Bermuda insurer and reinsurer recorded a double-digit operating return on equity.
Operating earnings soared to $161 million compared to $51 million in the same quarter of 2015. And earnings per share of $1.78 trounced the $1.05 consensus forecast of analyst tracked by Yahoo Finance. The operating return on average common equity was 12 per cent.
Net income for the July-through-September period was $177 million, down from $248 million in the same period of 2015, when the results were boosted by $280 million of termination fees from the derailed merger agreement with PartnerRe, offset by $46 million in reorganisation expenses.
“We are pleased to report continued improvements in our operations and results, culminating in quarterly operating earnings of $1.78 per diluted share and book value per diluted share of $59.77,” Albert Benchimol, Axis chief executive officer, said.
“This represents growth in diluted book value per share, adjusted for dividends, of 4 per cent in the quarter and 14 per cent over the last 12 months.
“Our results speak to optimisations we've made across our businesses to build a more resilient portfolio. All three of our businesses — Axis Insurance, Axis Re and Axis Accident & Health — delivered improved year-over-year results, and ongoing positive performance indicators reaffirm we are on a strong path forward and focused on delivering consistent, attractive returns to our shareholders.
“We continue to take tangible actions to position Axis for accelerated growth in a transformed insurance marketplace, and are seeing attractive opportunities, notwithstanding a challenging environment. Our efforts to further strengthen Axis's position as a leading specialty insurer and reinsurer were highlighted by the successful launch of Harrington Re with The Blackstone Group this past July, our continued expansion in international markets, and the investments we are making in our marketing and client services.”
Estimated catastrophe and weather-related pre-tax net losses totalled $22 million, compared to $43 million in 2015. The combined ratio improved to 92.6 per cent from 96.6 per cent last year, aided by $76 million of net favourable reserve development benefiting the ratio by 8.1 points.
At September 30, diluted book value was $59.77 per share, up 4 per cent for the quarter.
The company spent $126 million on buying back its own shares.