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Catastrophe losses hit Axis earnings

Axis CEO Albert Benchimol ¬

Insurer and reinsurer Axis reported profits of $5 million for the first quarter of the year — down $33 million on the same period last year.

The quarterly figure, equivalent to six cents per diluted share, compared to the 41 cents per diluted share recorded for quarter one 2016.

Albert Benchimol, president and CEO of Axis, said: “Notwithstanding the pressure from a number of unusual and one-time items in the quarter, we are pleased to report that, adjusted for dividends, diluted book value per common share increased by $1 or two per cent per common share for the quarter.

“The special items that impacted our operating income for the quarter include the impact of the Ogden rate change in the UK, executive severance and retirement costs and an impairment of an equity-method investment.

“In addition, we experienced high catastrophe and weather-related costs for the quarter, which were in line with higher industry losses.”

Gross premiums written decreased in the quarter by $47 million to $1.9 billion, representing a 2 per cent drop.

There was decrease in gross premiums written in the reinsurance segment of $88 million, on a constant currency basis, which was partly offset by an increase of $41 million in the insurance segment.

Axis recorded pre-tax catastrophe and weather-related net losses of $35 million, compared to $14 million for the first three months of last year.

A total of $8 million was spent in the quarter on senior executive severance costs.

Net investment income increased to $99 million, compared to $49 million for the first quarter of 2016.

Mr Benchimol said: “Even against the backdrop of a challenging global property and catastrophe marketplace, we continue to demonstrate improvements in our insurance accident year loss ratio excluding catastrophe and weather and benefits from our strategic capital partnering activities which allow us to do more for our clients, lower our cost of capital and attractively rebalance the risk-reward equation for our shareholders.

“Our underlying underwriting results demonstrate the strength of our various underwriting and risk management initiatives, good progress in our targeted growth initiatives and continued positive momentum in our strategic capital partnering activities.”