The Travelers Cos. began 2014 with a bang, giving investors a first quarter of soaring net and operating income, thanks in part to a major acquisition. For Q2, however, higher catastrophe losses brought some things down to earth for the property/casualty insurance giant.
Net income during the 2014 second quarter dipped to $683 million, or $1.95 per diluted share. That compares to $925 million in net income, or $2.41 per diluted share, during the same period in 2013.
Travelers Chairman and CEO Jay Fishman said the results remain strong and reflect, in part, the contrast with tax and legal settlement gains that were higher last year. Of course, there was also the weather.
“We’re quite pleased with the strong results we posted this quarter, particularly given the magnitude of our catastrophe and noncatastrophe-related weather losses, Fishman said during the company’s earnings conference call. “Who would have thought we’d be talking about a polar vortex in July?”
Fishman added that Travelers remains “concerned that weather volatility remains problematic” and is “not convinced that each property cat account is priced to reflect this.” He insisted that a push to adjust pricing would continue.
Similar to net income, net operating income also declined, to $673 million during the quarter versus $816 million in the 2013 second quarter. As weather-related losses grew, so did the combined ratio. It hit 95.1 during the quarter, up from 94.3 during the same period in 2013.
Net written premiums, however, nearly reached $6.2 billion during the 2014 second quarter, up from more than $5.8 billion last year. Travelers said that number is a record for the company and that its acquisition of Dominion of Canada in November 2013 helped fuel this.
Fishman said that each of the company’s business segments performed generally well, save for Travelers’ commercial auto book. Travelers said net written premiums grew for its business insurance as well as its financial, professional and international insurance, but they dipped slightly for personal insurance as cat losses.
Investment gains also came out ahead. Net investment income hit $695 million during Q2 versus $687 million in the 2013 second quarter. Strong private equity returns helped this, but lower reinvestment rates prevented the number from going even higher, Travelers said.
While Travelers earnings reflected some catastrophe loss challenges, reporting on overall market conditions, Fishman said the “environment has become more rate adequate.”
“From our view it is more of the same,” Fishman said. “We are going to relentlessly leverage our competitive advantage. We expect to produce earnings and capital in excess of what we need to support the business.”