The Travelers Companies (TRV)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 19, 2011 9:00 am ET


Greg Toczydlowski - President of Personal Insurance

Jay S. Fishman - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Executive Committee

Alan D. Schnitzer - Vice Chairman, Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President of Financial, Professional & International Insurance

Jay S. Benet - Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer

Gabriella Nawi - Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Member of Operating Committee

Unknown Executive -

William E. Cunningham - Executive Vice President of Business Insurance

William H. Heyman - Vice Chairman and Chief Investment Officer

Brian W. MacLean - President and Chief Operating Officer


Matthew G. Heimermann - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Jay Gelb - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Michael Nannizzi - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Randy Binner - FBR Capital Markets & Co., Research Division

Cliff Gallant - Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division

Larry Greenberg - Langen McAlenney

Joshua D. Shanker - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Gregory Locraft - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Brian Meredith - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Jay A. Cohen - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Keith F. Walsh - Citigroup Inc, Research Division



Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Third Quarter Results Teleconference for Travelers. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded on Wednesday, October 19, 2011. At this time, I would like to turn the call over to Ms. Gabriella Nawi, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations. Ms. Nawi, you may begin.

Gabriella Nawi

Thank you, Judy. Good morning, and welcome to Travelers' discussion of our third quarter results. Hopefully, all of you have seen our press release, financial supplement and webcast presentation released earlier this morning. All of these materials can be found on our website at, under the Investor section.

Speaking today will be Jay Fishman, Chairman and CEO; Jay Benet, Chief Financial Officer; and Brian MacLean, President and Chief Operating Officer. Other members of senior management are also in the room, available for the question-and-answer period. They will discuss the financial results of our business and the current market environment. They will refer to the webcast presentation, and then we will open it for questions.

Before I turn it over to Jay, I would like to draw your attention to the explanatory note included at the end of the webcast. Our presentation today includes forward-looking statements. The company cautions investors that any forward-looking statement involves risks and uncertainties and is not a guarantee of future performance. Actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements due to a variety of factors. These factors are described in our earnings press release and in our most recent 10-Q and 10-K filed with the SEC. We do not undertake any obligation to update forward-looking statements.

Also, in our remarks or responses to questions, we may mention some non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliations are included in our recent earnings press release, financial supplement and other materials that are available in the Investors section on our website. And now, Jay Fishman.

Jay S. Fishman

Thank you, Gabby. And good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today.

You, of course, all know that this was another quarter marked by significant weather. In that context, our business is strong enough to have produced $332 million in operating income and an operating return on equity of 5.9%. For the full year, we're at $781 million of operating income and an operating return on equity of 4.5%. While this year has certainly placed considerable demands on our claim department, we're very pleased that our claim teams were prepared and positioned to customers with first-rate speed. I also couldn't be more pleased with our catastrophe claim management strategy upon which we embarked in 2005.

Our ability to respond to claimants with almost entirely internal staffs sets us apart from many other insurance companies and allows us to process claims more effectively and efficiently, as well as with a higher level of customer satisfaction.

Turning to our operations, our strategy is quite focused. We are seeking improved pricing, as well as improved terms and conditions on the insurance products we sell. We are doing so not only because interest rates may remain low for some time, but also given the possibility that the more active weather patterns, such as we have experienced over the last few years, may continue.

And the progress we are making pursuing the strategy is already evident in our Business Insurance segment. In the quarter, we achieved pricing gains across all product lines, led by workers compensation and property. The overall pure renewal rate gain in the quarter for Business Insurance, excluding National Accounts, was just over 3% and just over 4% for the month of September, demonstrating our success in driving rate improvement.

And while we are prepared to trade volume or improve margins and profitability, retention remains at strong levels and forms a basis for our optimism that we can continue to improve pricing in our Business Insurance segment.

In that regard, we are particularly pleased with our results in our middle market businesses, and Brian will have more to say about that later. We also note that exposure in our Business Insurance segment remains positive and continues to improve. In addition, audit premiums have also turned meaningfully positive. The combination of higher exposure in auto premiums, as well as improved rate are important factors, which allowed us to generate a significant 7% growth in net written premiums in Business Insurance this quarter.

While our strategy is the same in Personal Insurance, our renewal premium change for property has been in the 8% to 9% range for some time, and our renewal premium change for auto has been in the 3% to 4% range. And the regulatory environment is such that it will take some time before our more recent actions will show in our results.

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