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Catastrophe losses hit Argo earnings

Argo Group has reported a dip in profits for the fourth quarter and the full year. The Bermudian-based company's net income for the quarter was $32.9 million, or $1.07 per common share, compared with $41.2 million for the same period in 2015.

For the full year the profit was $146.7 million, or $4.75 per share, compared to $162.2 million, or $5.20 per share, in 2015.

Argo's fourth-quarter adjusted operating income was $19.8 million, or 65 cents per share, which was in line with analysts' estimates.

For the full year gross written premiums were $2.16 billion, a rise of 7.6 per cent, and net investment income was $115.1 million, up 29.9 per cent.

Mark Watson, chief executive officer of Argo Group, noted that the company ended 2016 with book value of $59.73 per share, a 10 per cent increase “even with an increase in the incidence of global catastrophe losses relative to recent years”.

He said: “For the past 15 years, Argo Group has grown book value per share in excess of 10 per cent on a compounded annual basis.

“As we have discussed in the past, we consider the compounded annual growth in book value as the measure that most clearly demonstrates value creation for our shareholders.”

Mr Watson added: “Also, our annualised return on equity has averaged 9.8 per cent over the last four years. These results demonstrate the value of a well-balanced and diverse portfolio of businesses as well as thoughtful asset allocation.

“The recently completed acquisition of Ariel Re provides us with additional presence and scale in both our Bermuda and London-based operations.”

The insurer and reinsurer acquired fellow island firm Ariel Re in a $235 million deal.

For the fourth quarter, Argo reported estimated pre-tax catastrophe losses of $22.8 million, or 6.4 points on the combined ratio, compared with $5.2 million for the last three months of 2015. Its estimated full year pre-tax catastrophe losses are $61.7 million, up from $23.7 million.

The company's combined ratio for the year was 96.2 per cent, up from 95 per cent, and for the quarter was 98.8 per cent, compared to 94.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Argo Group shares yesterday closed at $65.95, up 75 cents, in New York.

Upbeat: Mark Watson, CEO of Argo Group

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Published February 14, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 14, 2017 at 12:25 am)

Catastrophe losses hit Argo earnings

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