Loews' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Loews (L)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 06, 2012 11:00 am ET


Mary Skafidas -

James S. Tisch - Chief Executive Officer, President, Member of Office of the President, Director, Member of Executive Committee, Member of Finance Committee, Chairman of Diamond Offshore and Director of CNA

Peter W. Keegan - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President


Ron Bobman - Capital Returns Management

David J. Adelman - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Robert Glasspiegel - Langen McAlenney

Michael Bunyaner

Michael Millman - Millman Research Associates

Sam Yake - BGB Securities, Inc., Research Division



Good morning. My name is Kelly, and I will be your operator for today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to Loews Fourth Quarter 2011 and Year End Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] Thank you. I will now turn the conference over to Mary Skafidas, Vice President, Investor Relations. Please go ahead.

Mary Skafidas

Thank you, Kelly. Good morning, everyone. I'm Mary Skafidas, the Head of Investor Relations for Loews, and I'd like to welcome you all to the Loews Corporation Fourth Quarter and Year End 2011 Earnings Call [ph].

A copy of our earnings release may be found on our website, loews.com. On the call this morning, we have our Chief Executive Officer, Jim Tisch; and Chief Financial Officer, Pete Keegan. Following our prepared remarks this morning, we will have a question-and-answer session.

Before we begin, however, I will remind you that this conference call may include statements that are forward-looking in nature. Actual results achieved by the company may differ materially from those projections made in any forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements reflect circumstances at the time they are made and the company expressly disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. This disclaimer is only a brief summary of the company's statutory forward-looking statements disclaimers, which is included in the company's filings with the SEC.

During the call today, we might also discuss non-GAAP financial measures. Please refer to our security filings for reconciliations to the most comparable GAAP measures.

I will now turn the call over to Loews' Chief Executive Officer, Jim Tisch. Jim?

James S. Tisch

Thank you, Mary, and welcome to the Loews Corporation and good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us today to discuss Loews' fourth quarter and year-end results. I'll cover a few key highlights for the year, and then turn the call over to Pete Keegan, our CFO, to review our results in more detail.

As you know by now, net income for the full year 2011 was $2.63 per share, as compared to $3.07 in the prior year. While net income was down year-over-year, it left positive developments of several of our key subsidiaries. But before I discuss our individual businesses, let's take a moment to focus on the strategic management of Loews.

As I said before, we focus on 3 basic strategic principles, all with the goal of building long-term shareholder value. First, we constantly focus on making opportune investments and acquisitions that position us for future growth. This past year, Loews did not make any acquisitions at the holding company level. However, we did facilitate significant investments with at 2 of our subsidiaries, Boardwalk and HighMount, that should serve to greatly enhance long-term value of those companies and ultimately, Loews.

Our second basic principle is to create long-term value -- our second basic principle to create long-term value is to effectively manage and allocate Loews' capital. In that regard, in 2011, we spent $718 million buying back 18.2 million shares of Loews' common stock, an investment which we think significantly enhances value for all Loews' shareholders.

And third, we constantly work to enhance our subsidiaries' operating performance and capital structure. In 2011, Loews and our subsidiaries continue to weather the economic storm, while positioning ourselves for the future. Our subsidiaries made great progress in meeting the strategic imperative they set to make their business and operations stronger and better able to compete in any economic climate. I'm very pleased with the progress that each of our subsidiaries is making.

With respect to our subsidiaries, let's first take a look at CNA. The company continues to work towards its main strategic goals of improving the market position and profitability of the core team sea [ph] operation. CNA is focusing on underwriting and pricing discipline, seeking growth while continuing to build its balance sheet. Let me share 4 points that underscore CNA's success.

First, CNA's positive rate increases, solid business retention and strong new business have all resulted in premium growth across the P&C businesses. Second, 2011 was the fifth consecutive year of favorable prior year P&C loss development to CNA.

Third, CNA's book value per common share increased to $42.92 at year-end 2011, which reflects continued improvement in CNA's capital position. And lastly, CNA continued its efforts to simplify, strengthen and focus its organization. In that regard, CNA sold its 50% ownership interest in First Insurance Company of Hawaii in August and acquired in June the minority shares of CNA Surety that it did not previously own.

Turning to Diamond Offshore. Diamond continues to improve the capabilities of its fleet while maintaining its focus on prudent capital allocation. Diamond recently announced its plans to construct a deepwater semi-submersible rig, mainly Ocean Onyx, that is scheduled to be delivered in the third quarter of 2013. Diamond anticipates that there is significant demand from operators for new deepwater units and this rig should be ideally suited to meet that demand.

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