AXIS Capital Holdings closed out its 2018 fourth quarter with a nearly $200 million net loss, something President and CEO Albert Benchimol blamed largely on higher property catastrophe losses.

The company booked a 117.3 overall combined ratio in Q4 compared to 100.7 over the same period a year ago.

Benchimol, in prepared remarks, noted the loss and higher catastrophe costs, and the “unsatisfactory results” they produced, particularly for reinsurance. He insisted, however, that the company’s full-year underwriting performance improved even with the catastrophe loss cost surge. The company’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its portfolio will counter this longer term, he said.

“We anticipate that recent improvements in pricing and market discipline will also have a positive impact on the pace of our improvements,” he said.

The Bermuda-based insurer and reinsurer reported a net loss of $198 million for Q4, or negative $2.37 per diluted common share, compared to a $38 million net loss, or negative $0.46 per diluted common share in the 2017 fourth quarter.

He said that AXIS strengthened its position in a number of markets, including at Lloyd’s as the company integrated its $611.5 million acquisition of Novae Group plc, which closed in late 2017.

Here are highlights from Q4 and the full year:

  • Consolidated net premiums written were at $753 million in Q4, 3 percent higher than the same period in 2017.
  • Insurance gross premiums written were $920.7 billion in Q4 and net premiums written were $576.6 million versus $843.3 million and $515.8 million, respectively, in Q4 2017.
  • The insurance combined ratio for Q4 was 106.3, up from 93.9 in Q4 2017.
  • Reinsurance gross premiums written were $252 million in Q4 and net premiums written at $176 million compared to $242 million and $213 million, respectively, in the 2017 fourth quarter.
  • The reinsurance combined ratio landed at 124 in Q4 2018 compared to 102 in the 2017 fourth quarter.
  • For all of 2018, gross written premiums were at $6.9 billion, 24 percent higher than in 2017. That jump comes from the Novae acquisition and a 14 percent increase in the reinsurance segment.
  • Adjusting for the Novae acquisition’s impact, gross premiums written grew by $331 million—$60 million for the insurance segment and $271 million in the reinsurance segment.
  • Net premiums written reached $4.7 billion in 2018, 16 percent higher than in 2017.
  • The consolidated combined ratio for 2018 was 99.9 compared to 113.1 in 2017.

Source: AXIS