Allied World's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, AG ( AWH)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 16, 2012; 09:00 am ET

Executives

Scott Carmilani - President & Chief Executive Officer

Joan Dillard - Chief Financial Officer

John Gauthier - Chief Investment Officer

Keith Lennox - Investor Relations Officer

Analysts

Matt Carletti - JMP Securities

Michael Nannizzi - Goldman Sachs

Matt Heimermann - JPMorgan

Steve Labbe - Langen McAlenney

Sarah Dewitt - Barclays Capital

Ron Bobman - Capital Returns

Court Dignan - Fidelity

Presentation

Operator

Good morning and welcome to the Allied World Assurance fourth quarter 2011 earnings conference call. All participants will be in listen-only mode. (Operator Instructions).

I would now like to turn the conference over to Keith Lennox, Investor Relations Officer. Please go ahead sir.

Keith Lennox

Thank you. Good morning everyone. Our press release and financial supplements were issued last night after the market closed. If you'd like copies of either, please visit the Investor Relations section of our website at www.awac.com. Today's call will also be available through March 1 on our website and as a teleconference replay. The dial-in information for this replay is included in our earnings press release.

Our speakers this morning are Scott Carmilani, Allied World's President and Chief Executive Officer; Joan Dillard, the company's Chief Financial Officer; and John Gauthier, the company's Chief Investment Officer. Also here to assist with questions are several other members of our management team.

Before we begin, I will note that statements made during the call may include forward-looking statements within the meanings of the U.S. federal security laws. Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of uncertainties and risks that could significantly affect the company's current plans, anticipated actions and its future financial condition and results. These uncertainties and risks include, but are not limited to those disclosed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Forward-looking statements speak only to the date they are made and the company assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements in light of new information, future events or otherwise.

Additionally, during the call management will discuss certain non-GAAP measures within the meaning of the U.S. Federal Securities Laws. For more information and a reconciliation of these measures to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures, please refer to our earnings press release which was issued last night and is available on our website.

With that complete, I can turn the call over to Scott.

Scott Carmilani

Thanks Keith and good morning everybody. The company ended the year with a relatively strong fourth quarter, reporting net income of $183 million or $4.63 per diluted share. I’m going to lead off the call with some full year general comments as I think it’s appropriate since this is our year-end call and then we’ll turn it over to Joan to give more specifics on the quarter.

For the full year we generated $275 million of net income or $6.92 per diluted share. 2011 was a tough year compared to what we’ve been achieving over the past few years, but all in a good income compared to the market at large, our peers and the general economy’s performance. An 8.9% ROE on net income and on a net ROE of 6% on an operating basis isn’t too bad.

I want to mention, you should notice the $115 million of additional income via the break-up fee achieved from our attempted merger that was thwarted by certain shareholders. It isn’t part of the operating income that I stated or the stats I’ve stated in respect to that, but I think it should be counted, because it was certainly part of the value we’ve created for our shareholders (ph).

The company continues to focus on our specialty casualty initiatives and it is this business that continues to perform well and is the catalyst behind our posting $59 million of (inaudible) profits in 2011, despite the catastrophe losses. In addition our growth efforts and targeted lines in selected geographies throughout the world continue to payoff and are reflected in our financial statements.

The gross premiums written for the year were in excess of $1.9 billion, up over 10% from the prior year and a record top line number for the company. I’m very pleased that this growth was achieved organically across all three of our operating segments, demonstrating the expanded breadth and the scale of our operating platforms.

Our U.S. insurance segment now represents 43% of the company’s total writings and better than anything else illustrates Allied World’s transformation over the past few years to add smaller and commercial and middle market accounts to the platform. This business is providing a more stable rate environment and it is this market that is stickier business from our retention perspective. Segment’s full year premiums were up 15% in 2011 to $839 million.

Just four years ago only 13% of our business was producing within the United States. When we saw weakening in the excess casualty markets, we began shifting our resources and attention more towards the commercial US market place and move closer to our customers. We get to this business now through our 10 regional offices throughout the United States, from which we offer diversified products and enhanced service capabilities.

One last point on the U.S. insurance segment; about 3% of this segments premium in 2011 was generated from new business initiatives and from products and classes that were not underwritten at all prior to 2009. We continue to experience healthy growth in our newer specialty classes of business, including our expense based liability products, environmental and some E&O classes like cyber liability and coverages that are like it are developed specifically for niches and within industries.

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