The rehabilitation of American International Group Inc. continues with news that Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has improved its outlook for the insurance conglomerate.
Two years after AIG repaid a U.S. taxpayer bailout that had surpassed $182 billion and rescued it from almost certain collapse, Standard & Poor’s revised its outlook for the company from negative to stable. The upgrade reflects AIG’s continued turnaround, Standard & Poor’s credit analyst John Iten said in a statement.
“The outlook revision on AIG reflects improved fixed charge coverage driven by stronger operating earnings and declining financial coverage, which has reduced interest expense,” Iten said.
Standard & Poor’s said the stable outlook stems, in part, from expectations that AIG will maintain operating performance “consistent with our base case” as well as a “very strong” business risk profile and “extremely strong” capital.
Standard & Poor’s also affirmed its ratings on various AIG operating insurance company subsidiaries. As well, it raised its counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on AIG Korea from “A” to “A+,” due to that division’s improved underwriting performance, which has brought it to levels now consistent with overall group performance.
As far as the ratings affirmation, Standard & Poor said the action is due to AIG’s superb business and financial risk profiles built on a “broad geographic footprint, diverse revenue source and extremely strong capital.”
AIG has focused heavily on recapitalizing, reorganizing and streamlining since the 2008 economic crash. The Standard & Poor’s positive reassessment of the company shows how far AIG has come, though the road to travel is far from finished.
Earlier in May, AIG disclosed 2014 first quarter net income of $1.6 billion, down from $2.2 billion over the same period in 2013. AIG’s P/C division drew in more than $8.3 billion in net premiums written during the quarter, down from more than $8.4 billion in the 2013 first quarter. The division also generated a $97 million underwriting loss, versus $232 million in net underwriting income a year ago. Net investment income also dipped during the quarter, and the division’s combined ratio climbed to 101.2, up from 97.3 in the 2013 first quarter. Catastrophe losses also grew during what was a severe winter.
But AIG President and CEO Robert Benmosche said the company’s property/casualty arm had its second-best quarter in the previous 12 quarters, with the best being the 2013 first quarter. AIG said its P/C numbers generally hit expectations, with executives betting that trends will normalize during the year. AIG also experienced a more normal rate of P/C losses so far in 2014 after lower-than-normal losses in 2013.