American Financial Group Presents At Bank Of America Merrill Lynch Insurance Conference (Transcript)

American Financial Group (AFG)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Insurance Conference

Feb 15, 2012 07:30 AM ET


Carl Lindner - Chairman of the Board

Keith Jensen – CFO & SVP


Unidentified Analyst

Only a perennial speaker at this conference, American Financial Group, I have got Carl Lindner and Keith Jensen, I will let you guys do your introductions. This specialty company with some very interesting niches and they will be talking about those, I want to say personally that the founder of this company Carl Junior excuse me, passed away in 2011.

And I had a chance to many times sit down with Carl, he was a class act, he built really interesting company and even though it's we are sad to see him leave us, I certainly know he would be very pleased to see the company where it is today, Carl.

Carl Lindner

Good morning. I always appreciate the opportunity to let us share enthusiasm about American Financial Group which we consider to be one of the premier specialty essentially insurers out there. We are thankful to Gartner, our great management team that we were able to have a solid year despite of pretty challenging year of catastrophe, tough crop conditions throughout the year and then also earlier this year we are also very happy that to announce that we had no losses insuring the slack line at the halftime show at the Super Bowl.

For those of you who saw the guy balancing there we as a specialty insurer. We had the manufacturers defect liability cover for the slack line, so if it would've broken and there would've been some problems so we would have had few losses.

But that’s kind of what we are about is finding niches and finding interesting ways to deploying. So why invest in AFG, these are the things that I am going to be talking about this morning. We have a great spread of the diversity of business, not one of the 25 different businesses that we are involved in makes up more than 16% of our property and casualty net written premium. The results of the large property and casualty specialties, some of them like Crop-Hail, government (inaudible) or force-placed mortgages property insurance and the captive part of the national interstate and then our annuity business, you know those businesses don’t really correlate to the rest of the specialty property and casualty business that we have and we really like that diversity, I think it means more consistent earnings over time.

Our market position continues to improve in our various businesses today, as you can see over half of our property and casualty group gross written premium is produced by businesses with the top 10 rankings.

And we are also a top five player in most of the major annuity and supplemental lines. The main brand that we are building is the Great American name and Great American Insurance Group and among agents and brokers and our customers in the various niche business where we think we are doing a good job of developing a brand to the customers that we serve and in equine world where we're number one.

If you talk to horse trainer and any number of the different types of Arabians, thorough breeds and you ask them who they would most think of as an insurance company, probably think Great American.

Here you can say over the past three and five years we have had strong compound growth in book value per share. Surpassing our peers, you can also see along with strong growth and book value per share. We have had five and 10 compounded shareholder returns including dividends that surpassed the market and surpassed our peers.

Our in-house money-management arm, American Money Management has really given us a long-term damage over our peers. As you can see AFG’s annualized total return over five years for its fixed income portfolio, we are beating the peers by about in a composite by about a 110 basis points.

Over that time that means a $1 billion dollars of outperformance, small percentages add up over time. Also maybe I would maybe mention our risk analytics investment at year end I think we still Keith have maybe a $120 million of that left but since the IPO, we have had realized gains or unrealized gains of about $300 million that's a pretty big win on an investment like that. We are proud of the strategy that we put into place on that.

We feel we feel intelligently using our excess capital which was roughly $785 million at year-end 2011. We are keeping $200 million to 300 million of powdered drive, defensively because of the financial market volatility we return capital to shareholders through $316 million of share repurchase in 2011 at about 90% of tangible book value, it's about the average and through $68 million of dividends.

We are looking to repurchase probably another $250 million – $300 million of our stock if it continues to be as attractive as it is and will continue to review our dividend again this year. We are always looking for ways to expand our stable of specialty of niches whether it's through a hardening market and an internal growth, whether it's through small acquisition startups, we've been good at that over a long period of time.

Maybe the most important reason to invest in AFG is that we are undervalued and both on a PE and a book value moment basis as you can see. As I have mentioned to you before we performed well in a challenging year for our industry and we have the balance sheet to take advantage of opportunities going forward.

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