Property/casualty insurers’ 2014 second-quarter earnings will generally serve as a model of stability, though inflation and other factors may adversely affect long-term trends, Nomura Equity Research analysts predicted.
“While primary homeowners took some mild losses, [earnings per share] are looking to be good overall and benign forecasts for the hurricane season are raising expectations” for those Q2 earnings, analysts Clifford Gallant and Matthew Rohrmann noted in their July 1 analysis of expected property/casualty earnings for the second quarter.
The pair said that loss trends continue to be benign and they see reserve releases as buoying earnings per share for the second quarter. And while April and May storm losses may hamper earnings to a degree, the Nomura duo said that losses will be “on a much lower scale” than expected for exposed insurers such as Chubb and Travelers. As well, they see Bermudian reinsurers and the reinsurance industry overall as having missed these losses, because accumulations “are unlikely to have pierced contracted retentions.”
As a result, Gallant and Rohrmann said they’re raising earnings per share estimates for companies such as RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. and PartnersRe Ltd.—those that had a “fortunate catastrophe quarter.”
At the same time, the pair warn that there are a number of factors adding to analysts’ long-term concerns about the industry. Gallant and Rohrmann said they’re worried about the “rising risk of inflation,” weak reserve strength and continued pricing pressures.
“Pressures on pricing continue to mount with midyear renewals in reinsurance down in the double-digit range,” the Nomura analysts wrote. “Well aware of the pressures, buyers of commercial insurance are reportedly pressing their carriers for discounts, easier terms and conditions and shopping their prices. We continue to view that we are yet in the early days of a soft market.”