In spite of a challenging market, Everest Re Group Ltd. demonstrated resiliency and a willingness to adapt, recording increased premiums in the first-quarter of 2014. The Bermuda holding company also disclosed that its first catastrophe bonds are closing soon.
While Everest’s net income tumbled 23.4 percent, underwriting results improved in both the reinsurance and insurance segments. Investment results brought down the bottom-line figure. On the top line, gross written premiums jumped 7 percent, with reinsurance premiums up 12 percent (including the Mt. Logan Re capital market platform).
The combined ratio held steady, coming in at 80.0 for this year’s first quarter, compared to 80.7 in first-quarter 2013.
“The market is always challenging but we are continuing to find opportunities to grow premium and risk-adjusted returns, demonstrating the strength of our franchise and operating strategies,” Everest President and CEO Dominic Addesso said in a statement.
Everest booked $293.9 million in net income during the quarter, or $6.21 per share, versus $384.3 million, or $7.50 per common share over the same period in 2013.
Addesso, in his prepared remarks, emphasized, in part, Everest’s efforts toward adapting to the changing market environment. He noted, for example, that Everest is finalizing plans to close on its first catastrophe bonds, a move that will generate $450 million of property risk coverage “at very optimal pricing and terms and conditions.”
“Alternative reinsurance capacity is increasingly part of our strategy,” Addesso said, “coming into play both offensively and defensively, as we seek ways to optimize our returns.”
Here are first-quarter 2014 earnings highlights from Everest’s report:
- Insurance premiums dropped 9 percent for the quarter, largely due to a premium adjustment for crop business, thanks to lower-than-expected premium for the winter crop season.
- During the quarter, the company bought back $250 million worth of its common shares and paid $35 million in dividends, something that Addesso said was the largest return to shareholders in any single quarter.
- Gross written premiums during the quarter hit the $1.3 billion mark, a 7 percent jump over the 2013 first quarter.
- Global reinsurance premiums climbed 12 percent quarter-over-quarter, thanks, in part to new opportunities after January renewals.
- Pre-tax net investment income for first-quarter 2014 reached $123.2 million, including $2.3 million in limited partnership losses. In first-quarter 2013, the comparable figure was $145.8 million.
- Net realized gains fell to $13.0 million, compared to $83.3 million in last year’s first quarter.