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Axis reports lower profit but improved core performance

Albert Benchimol, the president and CEO of Axis Capital (File photograph)

Bermudian-based Axis Capital Holdings Limited has reported fourth-quarter net income of $41 million (2021: $197 million) and overall net income for 2022 of $193 million (2021: $588 million).

The income downturn comes as the company has refocused its business to lower catastrophe exposure and more specialty lines.

For the full year, underwriting income was up 35 per cent to $358.9 million and the combined ratio improved 170 basis points to 95.8 per cent.

Axis Capital exited 2022 with cash and cash equivalents of $1.2 billion, down 10.9 per cent from the 2021 level. Debts were $1.3 billion at year-end, up 0.1 per cent from the 2021-end level.

Book value per share decreased 15.7 per cent to $48.31 as of December 31.

Annualised operating return on equity was 11.1 per cent in 2022, up 200 bps year over year.

Leverage deteriorated 250 bps to 22 per cent.

Operating income in the fourth quarter was $167 million (2021: $182 million), while operating income for the full year was $498 million (2021: $436 million).

The company reported pre-tax catastrophe and weather-related losses, net of reinsurance and reinstatement premiums, of $403 million, compared with $443 million in 2021.

Albert Benchimol, the president and CEO of Axis Capital, said: "This was a strong quarter to cap a milestone year for Axis, one in which we emerged as a leading specialty underwriter that is well positioned to drive consistent, profitable growth in our chosen markets.

“This was evidenced in our fourth-quarter and full-year results which speak to the work that we’ve done in prior years to transform our business, enabling us to grow in profitable specialty markets, reduce our exposure to catastrophes and create a more agile and responsive operating infrastructure.

"During a year where the industry was again negatively impacted by heavy catastrophe activity, the Russia-Ukraine war, and financial and social inflation, we improved our combined ratio by 1.7 points to 95.8 per cent, continuing a multiyear improvement in our core performance.

“Moreover, during the year, we continued to advance the positive momentum in our results, generating record premium production, a lower expense ratio and increased underwriting income.

"Our specialty insurance business continued to deliver stellar performance, producing improvement across virtually all metrics in the quarter and the year, and we advanced our leadership position in specialty markets that are expected to remain attractive in 2023 and beyond.

“In addition, during the year and quarter, we took critical steps forward to focus Axis Re as a specialist reinsurer and had a good 1.1 renewal period which speaks to the strength of our customer relationships and the value that we bring to the market.

“Stepping back, as we look to the future, we believe Axis is exceedingly well positioned to compete in a market where there is consistent and rising demand for specialty coverage.”

Mr Benchimol added: "Finally, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our colleagues, customers, shareholders, analysts, and our board of directors. In a few short months, after having served as president and CEO of Axis for 11 years, I will transition the role to Vince Tizzio.

“I couldn’t be more proud of what our team has accomplished nor more excited for the path that we’re on. Moreover, in Vince, we have an excellent leader with a strong vision for the future and the dynamism and tenacity to make it happen.

“We look to the year ahead with confidence as we begin an exciting new chapter for Axis."

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Published January 27, 2023 at 7:59 am (Updated January 27, 2023 at 7:59 am)

Axis reports lower profit but improved core performance

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