While insurers including Allianz SE, Atrium Underwriting Group and AIG have taken recent hits with plane crashes in the Ukraine, Taiwan and elsewhere, Aspen Insurance Holdings has avoided major exposure, CEO Chris O’Kane assured investors during a July 24 earnings call.
“We’ve been pretty cautious in Russia for some time and don’t know of any exposure in the Ukraine,” O’Kane said in answer to a question regarding the company’s political risk exposure. “We’ve rather been avoiding Russia since the crisis blew up.”
As far as the Malaysia Airlines crash in the Ukraine, and another plane from the same airline that crashed in Asia and disappeared earlier this year, O’Kane said Aspen’s “involvement is very modest indeed” and added that execs are “not losing sleep about any individual event or totality.”
At the same time, O’Kane emphasized that Aspen does write for many foreign airlines, “and aviation war is part of our portfolio.” What’s more, he said, the market offers many growth opportunities.
“There is enough going on in the aviation war market to turn that market around,” O’Kane said. “Our products are going to be very much in demand. We expect double pricing [increases] in aviation war going forward and probably even bigger increases in aviation [reinsurance].”
While executives devoted no time talking about it during the call, Aspen may face some major change after July 25. That’s when its shareholders have a deadline to vote on various M&A proposals forwarded by Bermuda-based Endurance Specialty Holdings, which has been trying to buy Aspen for several months now despite heavy executive and board resistance. One analyst asked if the company has had problems with employee and executive retention since this has gone on.
O’Kane said that retention payments to key executives are already in place. He added that overall employee retention remains high.
“One hundred percent of our underwriters have decided to remain with us, which means we can keep driving growth,” O’Kane noted as an example of how Aspen has fared.
Aspen, a Bermuda property/casualty insurer and reinsurer, landed well with its 2014 second-quarter earnings. Keep in mind that reinsurers are struggling with heavy competition on multiple fronts as well as plunging pricing. But Aspen appears to be doing just fine.
Net income grew (including investment income), gross written and net written premiums soared to higher levels, net earned premiums are higher, and the combined ratio even dipped. Also, earnings per share are significantly higher.
Aspen said it produced $130.8 million in net income during the 2014 second quarter, compared to $40.1 million over the same period in the 2013 second quarter. Gross written premiums reached $779.3 million, up substantially from $687.3 million during the same period in 2013. Net written premiums also scored well, coming in at $686.4 million, a jump from $612.7 million in the 2013 second quarter. Aspen touted net earned premiums booked at $616.2 million, a huge gain over $544 million in the 2013 second quarter.
More good news: Aspen’s net investment income came in at $46.1 million during Q2, versus $45.9 million in the 2013 second quarter.
Overall, Aspen achieved a 90.1 combined ratio during the 2014 second quarter, versus 97.1 in the 2013 second quarter.
Aspen’s insurance division produced $488.9 million in gross written premiums, versus $388.7 million in the 2013 second quarter. Its combined ratio reached 95.5, versus 99.8 in the same period last year. Net written premiums hit $399.5 million, compared to $324.1 million in the 2013 second quarter. Net earned premiums came in at $337.4 million in the 2014 second quarter, a jump over $268.2 million in the same period in 2013.
And while other reinsurers are struggling, Aspen’s reinsurance arm seems to be doing fine. Gross written premiums for the division came in at $298.4 million, on par with $298.6 booked in the 2013 second quarter. Reinsurance also produced a favorable prior-year loss reserve development for the quarter of $28.4 million, up from $24.1 million in the 2013 second quarter. Aspen’s reinsurance division produced a 75.5 combined ratio, a vast improvement over the 88.9 combined ratio from the same period in 2013. Aspen said net written premiums for the quarter in the reinsurance division came in at $286.9 million, a slight dip over $288.6 million in the 2013 second quarter. Net earned premiums notched in at $278.8 million, over $275.8 million last year.
Aspen noted, however, that declines in casualty and specialty lines offset growth in gross written premiums in catastrophe and other property lines of business.