You hear it everywhere at this point: The reinsurance market has been softening for some time and shows no sign of reversal. But the CEO of RenaissanceRe Holdings sees his company, despite the ongoing market struggles, as demonstrating resilience by sticking to a sensible management plan.
“This was a tough renewal for the industry, and we saw the same trends continuing—namely, intense competition and ongoing pressure on rates,” CEO Kevin O’Donnell said during RenaissanceRe’s 2014 second-quarter earnings call.
“Against this backdrop, the team executed well, putting into practice the playbook we have consistently operated in soft market conditions like these,” O’Donnell said. “We cut back on business that did not meet our return hurdles. We positioned our portfolio and bought ceded retro to reduce risk in line with our consistent strategy to optimize our book of business.”
All of that said, O’Donnell also addressed industry observers who wonder whether the current reinsurance market—softened for some time now by the entrance of aggressive new competitors—is permanent or cyclical.
O’Donnell seemed to say that it is a little bit of both.
“One permanent factor is the many sources of capital [now] available to accept cat risk,” he said. “It is why RenaissanceRe was structured to include third-party capital many years ago.”
That said, O’Donnell insisted he still sees the market retaining some of its cyclical nature.
“Not all of this capital will be permanent,” he said. “It is important to point out that different types of capital are attracted to this business at different times. Forms [of capital] we are managing now are very [different than] post-[Hurricane} Katrina capital. Understanding how to manage all forms of capital in all pricing environments is required for long-term success.”
RenaissanceRe said it produced $120.8 million in net income available to common shareholders ($2.95 per diluted common share), up substantially from $26.8 million ($0.60 per diluted common share) in the 2013 second quarter. The company credits these results, in part, to higher investment income and returns on those investments. Corporate expenses also dropped sharply year-over-year, the company said, and RenaissanceRe’s Lloyd’s arm improved its results. There’s also an 11 percent return on investment and 3.5 percent growth in tangible book value per share, plus accumulated dividends, over the same period a year ago, O’Donnell said.
Broken down, however, things are a mixed bag.
RenaissanceRe said it produced $99.7 million in underwriting income during the 2014 second quarter and a 61.7 combined ratio versus $113.4 million and a 61.2 combined ratio in the 2013 second quarter.
Gross premiums written during Q2 2014 reached $511.5 million, a 27.3 percent drop from $703.2 million in the 2013 second quarter, due to a 28 percent drop in the company’s managed catastrophe premiums as the market softens. Net premiums written came in at $346.4 million, down from $559.1 million.
Net investment income grew to $34.5 million, up from $26.1 million in the 2013 second quarter. Net realized gains on investments surpassed $27.1 million versus a $69.5 million loss in the year-ago quarter.
Here’s a segment-by-segment breakdown:
Catastrophe reinsurance. The division produced $388 million in gross premiums written during the 2014 second quarter and $233.7 million in net premiums written. Net premiums earned reached $159.15 million, and the combined ratio reached 48.2. In the 2013 second quarter, the division generated $576 .9 million in gross premiums written and $436.8 million in net premiums written. Net premiums earned surpassed $200 million, and the combined ratio landed at 45.2
Specialty insurance. The division produced $51.5 million in gross premiums written, $46.2 million in net premiums written, $53.6 million in net premiums earned and a combined ratio of 78.9 in the 2014 second quarter. In the 2013 second quarter, specialty insurance brought in $58.5 million in gross premiums written, $57.3 million in net premiums written and $49.2 million in net premiums earned. The combined ratio a year ago was much higher, at 85.6.
Lloyd’s. In the 2014 second quarter, the division brought in $71.9 million in gross premiums written, $66.4 million in net premiums written and $47.6 million in net premiums earned. The combined ratio was 101.3. These numbers are a big improvement over the 2013 second quarter, which generated nearly $68.8 million in gross premiums written, $64.6 million in net premiums written and $41.9 million in net premiums earned, with a 108.4 combined ratio.