Cincinnati Financial Corporation (CINF)

Q2 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

July 29, 2010 11:00 am ET


Dennis McDaniel – IR Officer

Ken Stecher – President and CEO

Steve Johnston – CFO, SVP, Secretary and Treasurer

J.F. Scherer – EVP, Sales and Marketing

Marty Mullen – Chief Claims Officer

Marty Hollenbeck – SVP, Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer


Vincent D'Agostino – Stifel Nicolaus

Paul Newsome – Sandler O'Neill

Doug Mewhirter – RBC Capital Markets

Ian Gutterman – Adage Capital

Dan Schlemmer – Macquarie


O perator

Good morning. My name is Michelle and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Cincinnati Financial second quarter earnings conference call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers' remarks, there will be a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) I would now like to turn the call over to Mr. Dennis McDaniel, investor relations officer. Mr. McDaniel, you may begin your conference.

Dennis McDaniel

Hello. This is Dennis McDaniel of Cincinnati Financial. Thank you for joining us for our second quarter 2010 earnings conference call. Late yesterday, we issued a news release on our results, along with our supplemental financial package, and we filed our quarterly report on Form 10-Q. If you need copies of any of these documents, please visit our Investor Web site, The shortest route to the information is in the far right column via the Quarterly Results quick link.

On this call, you'll first hear from Ken Stecher, president and chief executive officer; and, Chief Financial Officer Steve Johnston. After their prepared remarks, investors participating on the call may ask questions. At that time, some responses may be made by others in the room with us, including Chairman Jack Schiff Jr.; Executive Vice President J.F. Scherer of Sales & Marketing; Principal Accounting Officer Eric Matthews; Chief Investment Officer Marty Hollenbeck; and, Chief Claims Officer Marty Mullen.

First, please note that some of the matters to be discussed today are forward-looking. These forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties. With respect to these risks and uncertainties, we direct your attention to our news release and to our various filings with the SEC. Also, a reconciliation of non-GAAP measures was provided with the news release. Statutory accounting data is prepared in accordance with the statutory accounting rules, and therefore, are not reconciled to GAAP.

With that, I'll turn the call over to Ken.

Ken Stecher

Thank you, Dennis. Good morning. And thank you for joining us today to hear about our second quarter and first half results. While there are no big surprises, we do have updates on some recurrent themes of recent quarters. We've come a long way since this time last year. And we know we have a lot farther to go. What we see now, midway through 2010, strengthens our confidence that what we've started can raise our profitability to an acceptable level, and then drive it to new heights, creating significant value for shareholders.

First, our premium growth initiatives continue at a good pace. Our strategy has been to seek new growth opportunities to offset the effects of unhealthy price competition in commercial lines, by far our largest business area. We (inaudible) this new evidence for growth. Their contributions in the second quarter allow us to report six-month new business and net written premiums at a level essentially flat with last year despite lower commercial lines volume. With very little positive developments and an ultra competitive commercial insurance market, we've made sure our value proposition is strong in helping drive sales in our other lines of business, in new states, and through additional agencies.

Our premiums for our excess in surplus lines operation, which will soon begin its third year of operation, roughly doubled compared with the 2009 comparable quarter and six months. Our E&S growth is carefully managed with a focus on writing lower limits on risks considered moderate for the E&S markets. Life insurance earned premiums continued healthy growth at a double-digit rate for the first half of the year, and the profit margin remains steady. (inaudible) at our three new western states were an additional $11 million of commercial new business in the first half, offsetting a good portion of the 18% new business decline in our established states.

And in personal lines, a third of our $25 million growth in year-to-date net written premiums came from (inaudible) states activated for personal lines since 2008. As personal lines renewal pricing improves, we're glad to have that larger footprint and more agencies, and established states, too. We saw about a 6% rise in personal renewal of premiums, in part reflecting rate increases. That contrast with commercial lines, where average renewal pricing continues down about 1%, and our policy holders insurable exposures continue under pressure.

With significant growth in other areas, we have taken the opportunity to walk away from under-priced business and commercial lines, protecting future profitability. Just the same, we aren't skipping on our support for commercial lines business. Business insurance tends to be the main focus in our independent agencies positioning them to be centers of influence in their communities. We're increasing the value we bring to agencies and their policy holders by strengthening our local field staff, including loss control representatives, workers compensation claims specialists, and personal lines field marketing representatives. Staff additions are offset by efficiencies at headquarters achieved through technology.

We're keenly aware that local field service distinguishes Cincinnati. And that's even more of a factor than our technology progress in making it easy for agents to do business with us. Additional state roll-outs of our new commercial policy administration system continue on schedule. And feedback from our agents is very favorable.

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