Save for some struggles with reinsurance, W.R. Berkley Corp. reported solid numbers for the first quarter. The company said an ongoing strategy to minimize volatility and a big gain in investment income contributed to its results.

The commercial lines property/casualty insurer and reinsurer booked $166.3 million in net income or $1.30 per share compared to $123.4 million or $0.96 per share in the 2017 first quarter.

W.R. Berkley’s combined ratio was 94.6 versus 95.7 a year ago.

Investment income surpassed $174.5 million compared to $148.8 million in the 2017 first quarter, a result that W.R. Berkley said came from the core investment portfolio increasing 11.3 percent.

While net premiums written in the insurance segment grew by 3.3 percent during the quarter (with steady price improvement each month), these gains were partially offset by a 20 percent decline in the net premiums written for the reinsurance segment. Why did reinsurance do so poorly? W.R. Berkley blamed non-catastrophe weather-related property losses, though it noted its accident-year loss ratio without catastrophe losses was stable.

“We remain optimistic that slow but steady improvements in pricing, along with growth in the economy benefiting from recent tax reform, will enable our underwriting results to improve,” the company said in its earnings announcement.

Here are additional highlights from consolidated and other results:

  • Consolidated net premiums written were close to $1.67 billion, essentially flat compared to the $1.64 billion figure reported in the 2017 first quarter. The same was true for gross premiums written, at nearly $1.98 billion in the 2018 first quarter compared to $1.9 billion in Q1 2017.
  • Consolidated net premiums earned were $1.56 billion compared to $1.57 billion in the same, year-ago period.
  • The insurance segment saw small gains in insurance gross premiums written—at $1.8 billion, up from nearly $1.77 billion in Q1 2017. Net premiums written were $1.5 billion compared to $1.49 billion a year ago.
  • Reinsurance gross premiums written were at $141.4 million, down from $166.8 million in the 2017 first quarter. Net premiums written were $122.3 million compared to $152.7 million over the same period last year.

Source: W.R. Berkley Corp.