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Chubb’s full-year profits top $4bn

Evan Greenberg: praised "world-class" underwriting at Chubb

Chubb’s annual profit topped $4 billion for 2016, as the global insurer declared fourth-quarter earnings that surpassed analysts expectations.

Evan Greenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of Chubb Ltd, attributed the results to “world-class” underwriting and said he expected stronger growth ahead.

Chubb Ltd was formerly known as Ace before it took over venerable US insurer Chubb Corp in 2015 and adopted the Chubb name. Headquartered in Switzerland, it retains substantial operations in Bermuda.

Fourth-quarter net and operating income included a one-time benefit of $73 million after-tax, or 16 cents per share, related to the harmonisation of the company’s US pension plans.

Chubb’s net income for the fourth quarter was $1.61 billion, or $3.41 per share, compared with $683 million, or $2.08 per share, for the same quarter last year.

Operating income was $1.28 billion, or $2.72 per share, comfortably topping the $2.42 consensus forecast of Wall Street analysts.

The property and casualty (P&C) combined ratio was 87.8 per cent.

Adjusted net investment income was $845 million for the quarter and $3.3 billion for the year.

Mr Greenberg said the company was performing well in a challenging environment.

“We are operating in a time of uncertainty, economically and geopolitically,” Mr Greenberg said. “On the one hand, the world is a tense place, marked by growing nationalism and populism that are feeding protectionist sentiment. On the other hand, in the US, the monetary and fiscal changes afoot around tax, regulation of business, infrastructure and higher interest rates are potentially a real positive for business, jobs and the economy if implemented in a way that does not exacerbate budget deficits.

“Despite the challenging environment, Chubb is a company built to outperform and I am optimistic about our future, both 2017 and beyond.”

He said 2016 has been a year of great accomplishment for Chubb, financially and otherwise.

“Even with elevated natural catastrophe losses and soft P&C market conditions globally, our underwriting results in the quarter were simply excellent, highlighted by a P&C combined ratio of 87.6 per cent and driven by strong performances from our global P&C businesses and our agriculture division, which had an outstanding quarter,” Mr Greenberg said.

“For the year, our company’s P&C combined ratio was 88 per cent compared to 87.5 per cent prior year as if we were one company then — simply world-class.

“Our strong earnings led to very good operating ROEs of 11 per cent for the quarter and 10.5 per cent for the year. Book and tangible book value growth was relatively flat in the quarter, an excellent result considering the sharp rise in interest rates at year-end and a strengthening dollar.”

He added: “While market conditions globally are competitive, I expect as we progress through ‘17, and the impact of the merger continues to fade and the power of the organisation gains more momentum, we will produce stronger growth.

“Operationally and culturally, our integration efforts are on track and we have either achieved or exceeded substantially all of the financial and non-financial targets we set at the time of the merger.”